Public Affairs; United States Civil Rights Commission Hearings On Boston School Desegregation
From Boston imaginal public radio presents a special report the hearings of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The Boston school desegregation case. Reporting from NPR member station WGBH. Here is Frank Fitzmaurice. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opened a week of hearings in Boston today to investigate the recent and continuing turmoil in the city over the federal court order to desegregate the city's public schools. Busing has come to Boston and it's probably here to stay but the controversy surrounding the order has only diminished slightly since last fall when boycotts student violence and street disorders put Boston into the national spotlight. The US Civil Rights Commission has been working here since April and they've subpoenaed a long list of witnesses including government officials and civic leaders on both sides of the legal fight. The six member panel has no regulatory power itself but they will be preparing a
report with recommendations for the president and the Congress due for delivery this August just before the second phase of Boston busing is scheduled to get underway. On this program we'll hear a summary of today's testimony from local officials involved in keeping the peace last fall. And from community organizers who are determined to prevent a repeat of last fall's violence. First some background on the situation from reporter David Friedberg. This week marks the end of an academic term that turned the Boston public school system into a battleground over racial equality and its implications today for a fearful northern city. The legal contest over integration began a decade ago in state courts and the Massachusetts legislature. But not until last June did the power of a federal court compel the resistant school committee to implement busing as a means of achieving racial balance in a suit brought by the local and double ACP
U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. ruled a year ago that the school committee which functions as a Board of Education had deliberately maintained segregated schools with a thick compilation of facts and figures to support his contention. Judge Garrity ordered school personnel to labor through last summer and put into effect Phase 1 of integration as devised by state planners. It covered only one chunk of the nation's 10th largest city including Roxbury a black inner city community and the section called Southey or South Boston populated mostly by white ethnic families. The court order called for busing 18000 school children to the chagrin of many white parents last summer a citywide boycott took shape. And during the first month of classes attendance figures dipped well below the level of enrollment in some neighborhoods. Private academies sprang up illegally to circumvent desegregation. But the boycott lost its momentum as the
school term progressed and by late winter attendance had effectively returned to normal. The mere principle of integrated education was enough to provoke the wrath of some parents producing in turn the cry of racism. But others resented what they saw as a needless lengthening of their children's traveling time to and from school. They objected to the confusion of uprooting youngsters from a familiar educational setting and placing them instead in strange classrooms amid high pitched tension and with some politicians inevitably exploiting the climate of anger. Push came to shove and violence erupted while desegregation took effect smoothly in the vast majority of schools under phase one particularly in the lower grades. Disorder broke out at some high schools and in their surrounding neighborhoods. Police reported numerous incidents of rock hurling at school buses transporting black children to previously white schools
white and black pupils would skirmish in the corridors and the quantity of weapons brought to school each day convinced the authorities to install metal detectors at the front door. When word spread of one of several stabbings this term a street riot erupted outside Southey high on a different day. An innocent black man driving through South Boston was whisked from his car and bloodied by a white mob without provocation. The governor mobilized the National Guard and hundreds of city metropolitan and state police patrolled troubled campuses. Relative calm was eventually restored after one school was closed for a month. Although an atmosphere of disruption prevailed uneasily fighting in court escalated as well with the school committee an all white body maneuvering to avoid placing its stamp of approval on phase two desegregation set for next fall. At one point a committee majority was cited for contempt of federal court for failure to submit a new busing
plan. Judge Garrity who had been cast as a sort of villain by opponents of busing moved to draft the practical blueprint for phase two by appointing a panel of four masters who held hearings and came up with a citywide proposal. The judge further modified the master's report and in May issued his final decision for integrated schooling beginning in September 1975. It would cover nearly all the city's 200 public schools and prescribe busing for twenty one thousand of the projected student enrollment of 72000. A group called Roar an acronym for restore our alienated rights has staged mass protests against compulsory busing and the anti-racist coalition organized demonstrations in favor of racial equality. Citizen dissent on both sides is a crucial factor under consideration by the court and Judge Garrity has cautiously sought not to arouse further resistance. But
phase two will be implemented next fall. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld guaranties original order of a year ago. The remaining question mark and a subject for these hearings is whether city wide integration will have a more peaceful reception next term. This is David Freud Berg. Today's hearing opened with a statement by the commission chairman Arthur Fleming a former secretary of the Department of Health Education and Welfare during the Eisenhower administration. He applauded the Garrity decision as a logical and necessary observance of the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education case the landmark ruling in school desegregation developments during the past 21 years support the Supreme Court's conclusion that eight days segregated racially integrated school system in every section of this nation is the only way that the
constitutional right of equal opportunity for all children for quality education can be a fact of late. Implement. On June 21st 1974 the entire school system of Boston was found to be unconstitutionally segregated. The Boston School Committee was held responsible for an intentional a segregating the city's students teachers and school facilities. The suit called MARGAN versus Hannigan was brought by black children and their part against the Boston School Committee and others and sought to compel the desegregation of Boston's public school. The plaintiff argued that the Boston schools had that segregated and that the segregation was a direct result
of the intentional acts of the school committee. The defendants argue that if there was any segregation in Boston school it was a result of housing over which the defendants had no control and of legitimate educational policy in operating a neighborhood school. The United States District Court held the Boston School Committee and others responsible for segregating the public schools in the following areas. First the area of facilities utilization and news structures. The card held at the Boston School Committee intentionally created racial segregation by allowing some schools to become overcrowded while leaving others partially baked by using portable
facilities to avoid transferring students and by locating the sites of new schools in certain school districts that would promote the attendance of one racial group. Suck the area of distracting and read history. The court held at the Boston School Committee made changes in district boundaries in order to perpetuate racial segregation. Third the area of feeder the card held that the student composition of Boston High School was determined by a feeder pattern which paired certain Intermedia and a high school bearing no relation to resident within the geographical area around a high school. This was carried out was secretary intent
the fourth or open enrollment and control transfer. The court held that these two policies were managed under the direction of the defendant with the intention of discriminating on the basis of race. The fifth area faculty and staff. The card held that faculty and staff were assigned to the various schools in our racially some celebratory manner. The vet's aides of faculty and staff our transfer and promotion resulted in the least experienced faculty and administrators being assigned to schools with a high percentage of blacks to the SEC's their examination and vocational schools and progress in this area. The card held
that the fact that solution and intentional discrimination was found in other facets of the school system led to the inference that these programs were also intentionally segregated. Since the defendants were unable to offer any explanation for the small percentage of minorities in these schools and program the inference of intentional segregation was accepted by the court as fact. The court's decision also answered the school committee's contention that segregation in the public schools stemmed only from neutral factors or factors beyond the control of the school official. The court noted that although housing patterns are often responsible for school segregation the choice of school
site also influences housing part of the decision pointed out the proper selection of the school location could have minimized the effect of housing. The court also noted that the alleged neighborhood school policy had been so flexibly applied as not to amount to a policy at all. Neighborhood schools were found to be our reality only where residential segregation was already and in fact the neighborhood school policy was circumvented according to the card by open enrollment controlled transfer expense of busing and feeder white children were consistently allowed to us attend schools outside their
neighborhood. When the local schools had the high percentages of black student but black children were not given the option to attend school with high percentages of white students. The commission following the conclusion of these here will issue a public report containing its findings and recommendations this report will be completed in time to be considered by all interested parties before the opening of the schools in Boston in September. I would like to emphasize at the outset that a Commission on Civil Rights here is not an attempt to have bars that a one state city group of people are individual but rather an attempt to explore problems and
relationships in such a manner as to allow us as a commission to formulate appropriate recommendations which if implemented will help to make civil rights a reality in the lives of millions of persons throughout the commission's 18 year history. It is always sought to conduct its hearings in an object of mind. This same object of objectivity will prevail at this here. Civil Rights Commission Chairman Arthur Fleming opening today's hearings in Boston. The first witness was the message you said Secretary of Education Paul Parke who took office in January after the worst of the trouble had passed during the fall parkade headed Boston's model cities program and was closely involved with the
city's efforts to keep the lid on Boston schools. It was attempted to hire a whole group of people as part of monitors for the school buildings there were there were people from the communities who were hired for that and there were people who were hired as bus monitors. Now one of the unfortunate things that happened that neither one of these. Neither one of these groups of people were well-trained. They did not quite know what that job was for instance. One day there was an altercation in the back of one of the buses that was at a certain location. I want to board the bus because the bus by I left the bus running in fear because two youngsters were fighting on the back a black young son a white youngster and I ended up wading into the middle of the fray to break it up to the bus monitor was there to maintain some order. But they were not trained. They were not comfortable about the role I think it's important that people go in to work with youngsters and work to try to control the situations that they ought to be better trained and be trained in the first place to before they are put into the fray because then they don't know what they're doing. Number two
is I think that it was important that the faculty of the schools the teachers and the principals should have gotten better training before the school. There should be some attempt in those schools where it seems to me that some of the schools where there was going to be the integration process securing that there would be some selection of faculty who would be more receptive to the kinds of situations that are going to be occurring in the schools. I think that was important. I think the other thing that one has to do is that we looked around and suddenly realized there weren't many black teachers as it was was a very serious fact we didn't have any black policeman. So given the fact that we didn't have those people when the when the when the youngsters began to say that we don't feel comfortable unless we see some of ours there. We don't have the sum of hours they have put in because there weren't enough to go around. So there's a need. The judge was absolutely right when he began to mandate that there be more teaching facts and teaching people and certainly more administrators who are minorities because that to me is key. The second piece of this is is the relationship of what happened with the federal authorities.
We had a court mandated federal court mandated desegregation order. People were violating that order. People were congregating in front of schools people were being obstructionist to buses they were due they were trying to create a whole climate of fear. Black youngsters wouldn't be sent by their parents to these various schools and it seems to me one of the things we could have had very early was a more high visibility on the part of federal authorities to come into the breach Cranston's you know it's one thing to have a policeman arrest someone and take him into a district court in an area. It's another thing to have the FBI pick him up and move him out. And certainly it seems to me you know it's one of those things that somebody said when the FBI arrest you disappear forever you know they look at the movies and they see that's a different thing than when your friend Joe who arrest you and takes you into court where you have another friend sitting on the bench who says I understand the problems of those people I have and I've got to be a little bit more lenient. What we needed at the very beginning was it was a show of authority.
And I think that's important to look at where you know you're going to have intense friction and initial sort of authority that lets people know that they have to pay a price for being disruptive. And that wasn't done. I'm concerned about something that I will call an infrastructure. They are individual attitude. And the climate that prevails. Would you. Give an assessment of how some of the citizens in this community would describe what they would believe in equal opportunity. You know I think if you touch most people in Boston they probably tell you they believe in equal opportunity. I mean one of the things in one of the things that certainly takes longer than we have here to go into the sociology of the Boston communities. But one of the things that happened in Boston I think is different in a lot of places Boston has such severe community segregation. Each one of Boston's little enclaves are in fact ethnic enclaves and each one feels that
somehow no one has sole authority over its individual enclaves and people can enter and leave their enclave only as they so desire and therefore be yester to shelter within their particular enclave owned by the people in that enclave and then add somehow know that any intrusion into that enclave must be at the at the permission of the people in that enclave that's been the thesis of Boston and unfortunately that's what it was did to make it so vicious. I think that probably low income has something to do with it but I don't put as much value on low income as I do on ethnicity in this particular instance. People regardless of the income as long as they live in that kind of community or live in their community and see that that community is their community and nobody else will come in. Now this raises another I added to the vigor tree and racism. Yes it is but it's it's a little you know it's a little difficult more difficult to deal with what we saw in the south because you're dealing with people who will expose the fact that they had they had they had no responsibility to what happened to black people in this country
that their folks came over here a generation ago or they may have come this generation. They have no responsibility to that that somebody else did that and then we blame for that. But what we do here is that and the way they describe it by and large if you talk to most people is that this is our neighborhood. We like our neighborhood we want to stay this way. You like your neighborhood you want to stay the way you stand us we stand ours and but at the same time. The same people would interchange socially with each other. It's a very weird you know paradoxical kind of world. But. It all ends up the same place obviously because we saw it you know one of the interesting things about bussing people said they were opposed to busing and that they were opposed to forced busing in some cities when they were opposed to forced busing. There were buses that were destroyed. You could take buses into any of these communities undistorted if they were empty. The only time you had to put an escort on the bus was when the youngsters got out and so I would suggest that the issue was not bussing but who was in the bus. Where there are aspects of the desegregation effort in phase one that could be
evaluated as positive and successful. You know the only thing let me just say. There are several areas that can be because what we here by and large at least two high schools and sometimes three. As an example of what happened in Boston I think the thing to do that that are positive there are some positive aspects. It's interesting you go to a school like the one with the King Middle School that now used to be a predominately are 99 percent black that's now a predominantly white school where white youngsters are being bused in every day to come to school every day and with the principal for the first time. For instance let me tell you some of the things that happened for the first time the principal says they've been talking about painting and fixing up the building. Once the white notes to start to calm the building immediately got fixed up you know painted the floors of college I couldn't believe it when I went inside the building. She's gotten new books textbooks for the first time in years. Now all of those supplies have come and I talk to a science teacher another one of the schools in the black community that was being integrated. He said they've been trying to get a microscope for their science course for about
10 years. Now you've got 25 microscopes for the first time. I talked to some parents who were standing down. At the bayside mall and asking why do you send your children into South Boston High School every day. They said for the first time my children at home working the first time my kids came home with new textbooks. We've never seen that before. So there are things that are going on such as this that are going on every day. I would suggest to you that the majority of the youngsters who are being integrated into the phase 1 are having a successful experience is just in two or three cases that gets publicized where we have a problem and I think that has to be kept in mind. In effect you're saying that the quality of education in many instances was advanced by the desegregation. What I'm saying. Thank you. One further question you've indicated that the black community by and large was essentially cooperative with the desegregation order. And our earlier investigation tends to confirm that. However we've also
noted that there were more black students arrested and more black students suspended than wife. How would you account for this. Well there are several things going on. If you think about number one this let's take southwest of my school friends. One of the problems in South Boston was that when. There was a freight inside the schools the White House would leave and hit the streets. They could go out the door and go outside. The black youngsters knew that they couldn't do that because if they went on the street they may well be assaulted by the people outside. So it was a kind of situation where they had to hold. The ground so to speak because and we talked to the officers going in and tried to dissuade them many times but they went and they kept their numbers up so they could be mutually protective of each other and then I saw you know another thing because one of the things we picked up through are people who work the streets and they told us that the kids were being harassed but they said that most of the white youngsters are being trained to move the black kids. They were trained what to say to the black kids to cause us to buy cues to retaliate. So they would come down the hall and say things I have had the experience
myself walking into a school and walking past some kids who were looking straight ahead and call me all dirty in there and never and never never change their expression. My people told us that those the kids were being trained to do that because they knew that black youngsters would react to certain kinds of phrases. So they were doing that. So the black he had to be him first therefore he was in trouble and that was going on and a lot of cases we had people on the streets who gave us information and we knew what was going to happen so much so that I could be at a school track to the breaking up because I knew it was going to break up and that certainly the communication between parents and their children who attend school is the vital link to making desegregation a success. The commission took testimony this afternoon from two mothers. One black the other White who served as co-chair persons on the bi racial Council at the Burke High School which until Phase 1 had been attended largely by white pupils. Jay Margolis is president of the home and school Association and she testified
along with Joan Moss who we're first. I think most of the parents when they send their kids to school they want them you know to have a friendly atmosphere. You can only have a friendly atmosphere if the parents get off the kids back and let them see their own problems. We started out not so much of trying to make the kids love one another but to merely respect one another. After AB our racial meetings somehow or rather it came they wanted to go out. So we started to go out after the kids began and came finally they learnt to socialize with one another. We went to one place and they had such a good time for all requests were going to be where it was the furthest of the world. The kids went out and they had such a good time it was at a place that I gather wasn't
supposed to be an a dance and a white skeleton and a black students to dance and we were asked not to come back there anymore. So we didn't. But the parents have got to become involved. This is the only way to handle things. Do you believe that your daughter got a good education this year because the burka is a special school. You have a headmaster who cares. Like JANE SAYS You have young teachers who are willing to listen. And the kids themselves are special. We don't have any set formula. What made the burqa or the share we just you know we did like to comment on them. Well I think one thing that is unique about the birth this year I don't know if it's true in other schools. Only about 200 kids came back to the Bourke this year who attended the last year. Therefore it was kind of neutral turf for everybody it would no one's already implanted this is my school syndrome
that wasn't of what went on at the high school this year. All the kids kind of came to a new school black and white kids together. Mr. WRIGHT Have you noticed any change in attitude in your children during the school year. Not really. I know the youngest one is a little more conservative or he was very outgoing before. Of course Shelly always went to the borough and my other son went to English before and he continued to go there. I think I might add that my son was very concerned that he would have to go to the burbs. He just did not want to go. So he went to live with my oldest daughter. But outside of that they has gone along pretty much the same because just like Kate was saying once you got into the school he had no problem he said but it was just to get him into the school. He went on a ski trip the Shia for the first time. He enjoyed the act and he won't with the teachers but he's the type of student who can make friends with anyone.
I think there's been a big difference with my son. Mark went into the school year with Hell no I won't go and I think if you give him the option to change schools this year he wouldn't. What about parental influence you had a good influence. What's been the role of permits in Boston that have have a clue to the matter are the Hill of water where the students get along pretty were not for the current I think so. My children listen to me but they make their final decisions but I think yes the parents will leave the kids alone because I know several students who haven't gone to school and they are black and they say they don't go because that parents want to allow them. Well when I express concern wants I don't think you should go to school. But Keith went to his dad and say I want to go. My husband said let him go so he went. So they are very determined children.
You feel the same way about the role of a parent. Yeah I think it would be fine to let it do pretty well without parents and I think it would. I really do think out OK. I have no questions I just simply like to commend both of you for the active work that you're doing. I think it's very impressive but I've read the background statements on your efforts and think it's the type of work that both of you are doing in both your respective and your joint communities. That is going to be the key to fulfilling the Constitution in this country. Civil Rights Commissioner Steven Horne concluded with those laudatory remarks. Boston's tightly woven ethnic pattern came up repeatedly during today's testimony. As in this exchange between Commissioner Robert Rankin and two city officials former deputy mayor Robert Kiley and Clarence Jones of the mayor's office for Human Rights Watch the news is an unusual city but there are cities like Philadelphia and New York and even a city like Chicago which
should share some of those characteristics. What do you think city is wide will be allowed in Charleston South Carolina. Don't have their sections that feel just the neighborhood feeling as much as you do here in Boston. I may well and I trying to say that that Boston and a few other cities are the only ones with neighborhood. See I remember I'm a Southern member and I remember 10 years ago how citizens from Boston came down south to Alabama and this to tell us what to do and how to do it. I still have a vivid recollection of they're still here and they're still here is that correct on both sides and they were probably people from Cambridge. OK. Well I'm not going to particularize who came down there to see it but we had them and it surprises me here it is 10 years later 12 years later you're having your troubles we had 10 years ago. Whoa what's happening. The problem of race is not a new and obviously mysteries you know. Well certainly there's a.
Hundred years ago. Blood was spilled all over the place over and over over this issue and it's still being enacted in. In my opinion. In my judgment we're a long way from from a solution. I think we're a long way from from a solution. And their public school systems across the country and I think those of us who've been involved in the implementation of desegregation here in Boston have the bottom line for us really is to ensure that no lives are lost and that as many kids as possible or at least technically in the educational process. But those are not exactly activity goals. To be sure one wants to save lives but that's not that's not one doesn't get enthusiastic about that is an objective. But that's that's really those are the objectives that we had in mind here over the last year. So 10 years later you're going through the same problems that we had 10 years ago. I don't mean that we've gotten rid of all of our problems to the south.
I recognize we still have them too. But we seem to have made a better approach than you have here. I just can't quite understand. I think part of the problem if I may is the fact that whenever people begin to look at the city of Boston they forgot that there were people here and they begin to look at the physical structure and they talk about the Harvard and MIT as a cetera. And all the time that this was here they never really took a good look at the. But there were problems up there were that to a minorities here that were going to school under under situations that really didn't exist in their minds but existed in reality these people had to live here. And I think what has happened now that now that it's a law all of this is coming out and people are just really beginning to see it. But in the south I think there was an opportunity for a black if you will at this point to become a principal. Let's just take a simple thing as a principle. It was a he was able to become a principal because in the salt they were willing to to do this in order to give the
blacks the things that they felt they needed and keep them in their place. They weren't willing to give a damn thing. And I think that's the big difference and I think people begin to look at the physical structure and say Harvard Boston University Boston College etc. and forget about the real problems that people have the human problems and I think that's part of the reason why you're seeing this change begin to take place at this time. Accompanying the six commissioners is a full complement of staff attorneys and planners were organized this week's hearings and will offer conclusions in the report this summer. David Freiberg spoke with Mimi hardly the public information specialist with the commission. The decision to hold the hearing was made in about the middle of April but prior to that during March staff attorneys were up here interviewing people determining whether or not a hearing should be held. There have been approximately a dozen people on the hearing team doing the background preparation interviews gathering data. This is the first hearing we've done the concentrated
solely on one particular desegregation situation. As a consequence it's much more intense than anything else we've done on desegregation in one particular area. Now what has the staff thus far uncovered that is prior to actual taking of testimony. We've done a lot of background research a lot of it just involves familiarizing the staff and what did actually go on here. But one thing that they made an attempt to do was evaluate where face to where is phase one worked and where phase one didn't work. I think that maybe some of the successful stories haven't been brought to light as much as perhaps they should have been. Up until this this time some of the some of the case studies that we'll see over the next couple of days will represent different schools that had different completely different experiences with desegregation on Wednesday we're going to look today we looked at Burke High School in Roxbury where desegregation went fairly successfully it was it was
not it was not totally free from tension or incident but it seemed to be a situation where the majority of the students accepted it willingly. I mean there have been charges and countercharges and many conflicting reports as to what transpired in Boston particularly throughout the fall. How is your staff going about reducing the conference. We're trying to get other people's points of view points of view of people who were actually involved in the thing we're trying to get a representative sample of people involved. When we discussed South Boston High School we would discuss situations. Where a variety of incidents happened and were here. We're not going to talk about specific incidents like who hit who when. That's just you know not our not our goal in this at all. What we're going to talk about more is a general overview of what the situation was different people's view. We won't get everybody. You won't get every viewpoint of everybody who's involved in any kind of incident there.
What we will get we hope is some kind of idea of the mood the situation of things. I mean is there anything to distinguish school integration in Boston from school integration circumstances that you've observed in other cities. Well every city in the United States practically is different. I think one of the reasons we're coming to Boston to look at the situation here in addition to maybe some of the events that have caused a lot of publicity about the Boston situation is that we're starting to focus on desegregation in the north. Up until recent years as everything has been in the south and it's been a much different kind of situation here we're talking about many cities that have a large minority concentration in the city. Boston not as much so as other northern cities but Boston does have a lot of very white suburbs. So we're talking about situations that have been defacto segregated situations in which the housing patterns are such
that different races different minority groups are not intermingled with whites in the south. It was a matter of instituting the law and that in many in many instances people lived close enough together that it was not that you know the busing question as it is in the north in the north it's highly complex because the housing problem is so intertwined in the school desegregation problem. Boston is unique in some ways it has probably a larger white ethnic. Concentration of certain groups. Boston is a unique city in a lot of ways but I think the kinds of problems that are arising in Boston are going to rise in other northern cities. That's one of the reasons that we're so interested in Boston so the lessons that we learned in Boston can be applied to other cities that are in the north that are going to go through school desegregation. Do you expect one of the results of these hearings to be broadened into federal role in desegregation in Boston.
If it's necessary we hope that the federal government will take a more active part. We haven't yet made the determination that it's necessary. If we do make a recommendation that there should be more federal sanctions imposed or more federal intervention then we hope they would follow through but I think we can't really say that until we look at the testimony that's received at the hearing. Thank you very much talking with Mimi Hartley press spokes person for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holding hearings here in Boston. Citizen input has of course figured significantly in the desegregation controversy. Today the Civil Rights Commission heard testimony from a panel of community organizers all black who have played a role in helping to comb the fears of their neighbors. At the same time as assuring safety for besieged schoolchildren on the panel was Percy Wilson executive director of the Roxbury Mohi service center on several occasions we had to dissipate and ride in the buses to the school
to rescue children especially in those cases we the police department had headed to and recognize the fact that it was almost impossible for them to control the crowd. This was done in order to provide some sense of security again to families who felt that their children were cut off and trapped in those in and around Boston High School. And then the other part of the process of course was to provide some supportive mechanisms for kids who had gone through those stressful experiences. Did you or your organization make any proposals to the city and to the school committee to assist in implementing phase 1. Yes but I think that what you have to do is to have some pretension for. The general attitude of the Boston school department and also the general attitude of the
police department in the city generally you have to also realize that these were the same organizations which have been found guilty by the judge of willfully and intentionally denying equal access to educational resources to black children. However we did on several occasions meet with them to negotiate with them to try to encourage them that it was their responsibility to enforce the order and to do that to the maximum of the resources available. What disposition made of the proposal which you submitted. Well let me just say that in that in on each occasion we did most certainly have available to us an audience from the school department and I'd like to distinguish the school department in this case from the school committee and from the city government. There were did appear to be some reluctance on the part of those
departments to enforce the order aren't in to enforce it in the same spirit that they would have enforced it had it been the black community who were in opposition to the implementation of that saying what in your opinion were the significant factors that led to the negative response to the school desegregation. Well in my opinion it was one the climate set by the president of United States when he made his statement that he was not in favor of the Order to the. The attitude in the statements made by our own mayor here who on several occasions indicated that he was not necessarily in favor of the order but on all occasions indicated that it was his responsibility to enforce the law. The general attitude of the Boston School Committee immediately appealed the order and went in the court and then basically the general attitude of the
of the general white community and most certainly the press who tended to make the black community appear to be grossly responsible for the implementation of the order in the order taken place. Rather than put it in perspective the fact that the racial imbalance law which the state of Massachusetts had on its record for years it never been implemented. And that the city and the State Government had done nothing to do that but rather it made it appear that the white community would receive the hardship and the burden and that the black community were again forcing up on on these communities are necessary evils. And I think that those things serve to set the climate to have the general population feel that they could in fact resist the implementation of the order and did not have to take any responsibility for the implementation in that they could in fact live above the law.
So I think that that and couple more certainly I don't want to leave out the Boston City Council which did everything it could to violate the order. So so as a result of that there were no real commitment to provide in what is right and rightfully constitutionally to black children. I think it was Jordan would you state your name and address and occupation record. I'm the director of the community task force on education. To tell us what the community taskforce on education of the community taskforce on education organizes parents and students around any issues that are relevant to education and desegregation being one of the most crucial issues at this time that has been our main thrust. We have worked with parents and students since last year in the
spring bringing together the black and white parents and students in a series of meetings priority to the opening of schools so that they might sit down together and discuss issues which was of common concern and interest to all and would not become a point of conflict such as if my child gets sick in school in the area other than his which he resides. How would I get him home. And this was the points that we brought Panch together on. It was our feeling that desegregation of schools did not begin and end at the schoolhouse door. That communities had to be involved in that desegregation effort. How did your organization come into being. In April of last year the mayor called into a meeting what he felt was the leadership of the black community. Out of that meeting we ourselves to find nine task force to deal with separate issues that we felt had had gone lacking in our
community and one of those who are Swiss education and because we were education was so controversial at the time due to the desegregation order. We set up an office in August of last year and began to deal with organizing in disseminate information from a base of operation. But prior to that as I stated we had been having a series of meetings. Would you consider your position work to be successful in bringing firms together about educational problems. Yes we have brought parents together at a level where they were able to discuss things rationally and they has been very little of this going on through this whole effort. Our main concern was to try to develop some level of peace between the communities black and white who would be exchanging students. We did that successfully in Hyde Park Matta Pandora Chester and in Roxbury and parts of Dorchester who were exchanging students
the year we are expanding our efforts at this point. And it's it's very interesting that once people get together and sit around a table and talk they find out that they are all people and have things in common and cast aside some of the myths that had been created to perpetuate the chaotic conditions. Based on your experience what would be your community board school desegregation the black community has accepted desegregation of the schools number one because it is a federal order and we attempt to evade the law at every step. Also we see it as being a mechanism to develop what is all of what is needed for all and that is a better education which our children are not receiving at the present time black or white. We have attempted to remain peaceful and have done so beautifully. We have never had a case where a white student who has come into our community has been harassed by black adults. They have been minor incidents between students but
those happen irregardless. Yes we are one of the things that we're attempting to do during the summer months is to promote interaction between the different parties who will be involved in desegregation. That is school officials community residents parent students governmental officials. It seems as though everyone is working with either one or the other of those groups. We will attempt to bring those groups together at some level and have the necessary interaction to begin with some solid foundation in September in schools and schools. We had staff people in High Park High School who was participating in a program that was developed to bring black and white students together to promote activities. We also had two social workers in Hyde Park High School who were running and Qantas ations between black and white students
because we felt as though that some of the things that really were causing the underlying tensions were kind of swept under the rug. And to work in small groups and bring these out might be a possible resolution to some of the more controversial issues that were involved in that school. Mrs. Gloria Joyner director of the task force on education. Another of the panelists on community organization was Elma Lewis an energetic force for local quality education. She's director of the Oma Lewis School of Fine Arts and director of the National Center of Afro-American artists. She offered her opinion before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission today in this exchange with Commissioner Frankie Freeman. It was a little bit sad that it was never no worry that the violence wasn't taking place within our community. So for instance South Boston High I was paired with Roxbury High. And whenever reported in the press it's called South Boston. When an incident occurred it was actually occurring
physically in South Boston. But if you were reading the press it might as well have been happening in Roxbury Roxbury High had a very dedicated staff as well as all of the community support and that school was really the most creditable cool high school in Boston during the last season. Our children have become disenchanted. One of the most disenchanting experiences they had was the day that they were set upon in South Boston. And the police expressed an inability to bring them out safely and they got out only by luck. And all of us sat here with egg on our faces because as some of the youngsters said to me you couldn't come and get us. So if the police couldn't bring them out the school authorities couldn't defend them. We were told that federal intervention had to wait until some miraculous time when somebody was actually injured or died and no one had any ability to protect the children. Logically what can we say for them if
they then decide to protect themselves. We're going into September what recommendations would vary based upon your experiences and I direct this question to any of you choose to answer. I'd like to avoid a repetition of what would happen and then maybe the shifting of the burden to equalize the burden. I think that no agency in the city of Boston should receive any kind of public funds and I'm using the word public not just in the sense of tax dollars but foundations support any other kind of support. If those agencies are unwilling. To prepare their young people and their community Reds residents at large for support of American policy at home. Because that is actually what this is. And if in fact we were called upon when segregation was the law of the land to abide by that
law and we were called upon to be law abiding. I think that all support money should go only to those people who are willing to be law abiding. William Leary is one individual who's been caught in the middle of the political fight over court ordered busing is served as school superintendents and one thousand seventy two. But in a vote last April the school committee voted to replace him come this September. He was asked today by Commissioner Murray Saltzman to explain why so many of the Boston schools in inner city neighborhoods have fallen into disrepair. What would account for the fact that South High School is stuck for repair compared with other high school. That would involve. Part of that would involve a description of the relationships between the social class the majority ethnic group in this city. Around the turn of the century and the control which the state legislature still has over
how much money will be spent for building repairs the amount allowed to be spent on building repairs has been insufficient to cover the entire city. So some schools fall into more disrepair than others. One final question sir. How would you evaluate the quality of education in the Boston school system. Well I think I could. You know I could read a statement on that which would be would be true of an urban school system anywhere I don't think one can isolate. What is going on in in Boston. In many ways in urban education as being different than that is that is going on in other cities in cities. It costs more to do the same in Boston it costs more to do the same there have been innumerable reports which indicate that
life city school systems have more problems then than other types of school systems I think in Boston. We are making as all the urban systems every effort. The problems that poverty brings with it are present in the city of Boston because I think that Boston is primarily at the present time a working class city. It is not as it has been portrayed I think recently as the great bastion of liberalism. There are islands of liberalism in the city which consist of the universities and I think. When I heard one of the gentleman talking earlier about the people from Boston who went down south 10 years ago. People from 20 miles around refer to themselves as from Boston very frequently they could be from Cambridge or they could be from Medford or they could be from Wellesley or they could be from Wheaton or they could be from a number of places but I think the school system has has a long way to go in helping the
kids to get a better education but I think that the efforts are being made particularly by the teachers and the administrators to see that that happens. Unfortunately one of the major problems finances we find ourselves rather than staying even sometimes falling behind our one aspect about a farm may just pursue this one further point. Do you have any feeling about the impact of desegregation on the quality of these education in the city. Well I think that in some areas it's been beneficial in some areas perhaps not so beneficial I think that for every study that can show that it's had a positive effect. There is probably an educational study that can show something other than that I think. Nancy St. John has just completed a series of studies which show Medium to little effect.
- Public Affairs
- Producing Organization
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Contributing Organization
- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
- AAPB ID
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Production Unit: Radio
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 75-3020-00-00-001 (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Public Affairs; United States Civil Rights Commission Hearings On Boston School Desegregation,” 1975-06-16, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 30, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-042rbwvn.
- MLA: “Public Affairs; United States Civil Rights Commission Hearings On Boston School Desegregation.” 1975-06-16. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 30, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-042rbwvn>.
- APA: Public Affairs; United States Civil Rights Commission Hearings On Boston School Desegregation. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-042rbwvn