Allies for Racial Justice during the Boston Busing/Desegregation Crisis

Posted: June 5, 2012 by meghandoran in Uncategorized

Traditional stories of the Boston busing/desegregation crisis pit white against black, anti-busing against pro-busing, and neighborhood against neighborhood. In reality we know there was racism across the city, but that there were also people who took stands against racism, regardless of their color, position on busing or neighborhood they lived in. Some of these folks were, for example,  white, anti-busing, and born and raised in South Boston. They were young and old, activists, parents, bystanders, politicians etc. Throughout the past year we’ve met many white people from across the city who tried to take a stand in the 1970s in some big or small way and feel frustrated that their story is not a part of the narrative of what happened. We decided to hold an event to focus on the experiences and communities of a variety of white people who didn’t like the racism they saw around them at the time and the things they responded in their communities to the crisis.  We classified this group as ‘allies for racial justice’ although as one participant pointed it, this isn’t language that was used then, ad man people never considered themselves in this vein.

As a part of our context setting we asked participants four questions:

  1. What were the challenges, struggles, strategies and strength of white people who believed in racial justice in Boston leading up to this time?
  2. What was the state of relationships between white allies for racial justice and the various communities of greater Boston? What history had shaped these relationships?
  3. How were white allies for racial justice interacting with local institutions (school, government, business and finance, etc.)? (e.g. How were they positioned both inside and outside these institutions?) What history was this grounded in?
  4. What was happening culturally in Boston’s communities during that time period (e.g values, politics, arts, families, class, etc.)? Where did white allies for racial justice fit into this?

What ensued were some lively and very informative discussions. Click here to read the notes from this event and lease feel free to add your voice to this conversation by commenting below!

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