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Eyes on the Prize
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Massachusetts: Segregationists in Boston (1974)

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Former Congresswoman Louise Day Hicks (lower right) joined a large gathering of demonstrators outside the Massachusetts State House to protest busing of school children and to repeal the state's racial imbalance law, May 2, 1973.

Following Federal District Judge W. Arthur Garrity's 1974 decision to integrate the Boston public schools, white City Council member Louise Day Hicks and other opponents formed Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR). Their rallies drew the support of the School Committee, most of the Boston City Council, and many teachers and police. White parents and community leaders had been active throughout the 1960s to prevent even limited forms of desegregation in Boston's schools. When school started in the fall of 1974, white parents met the buses of black students with racial epithets, stones and bottles. They shattered windows and sent black students home with broken glass in their hair. They harassed white families who went along with desegregation. The violence centered around the working-class community of South Boston High School, which was eventually put into receivership by the court, but was also present in the city's middle class white neighborhoods. In the first years of integration, some white students were tutored at home; many white families left the city or sent their children to parochial or other private schools. Many of the white anti-busing demonstrators compared their violent protests to the civil disobedience of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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