Boston Forced Busing

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"Boston Against Busing: Race, Class and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s" By: Ronald P. Formisano

The book "Boston Against Busing: Race, Class and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s" written by Ronald P. Formisano examines the opposition of court-ordered desegregation through forced busing. The author comes to the conclusion that the issue surrounding integration is a far more complex issue than just racism that enveloped the southern half of the country during this time period. Formisano argues that there were broader elements including a class struggle, white backlash and "reactionary populism" that contributed to the emotions of those involved.

Formisano is persuasive in his arguments that the Boston anti-busing movement was a led by "grass-root insurgents" from the dominate Irish-Catholic working-class neighborhoods in South Boston. These protesters felt that their tight knit existence was being threatened by the rich, suburban liberals whose children were not effected by the enforcement of the busing. The author points out that it was an issue of "white resistance" rather than racism that played a role in the violence of the protests. I believe that this is a contradictory statement. What Formisano calls "white resistance" is the violent reaction to the Page 2

movement of African American students into predominantly white neighborhood schools and the mixing of two separate but legally equal peoples. Is the rock throwing at buses carrying elementary age children, stabbings at South Boston High School and riots on the streets outside the schools affected by the integration any different from the U.S. Army escorting nine African American students into school in Little Rock, Arkansas?

The author skirts around the central issue of racism by calling it a "class struggle" within the white population of Boston during the 1960s and 1970s. Formisano discuses the phenomenon known as "white flight", where great numbers of white families left the cities for the...
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