Interview with Tracy Amalfitano

So, we were talking about your transformation. Could you talk about how you started out not being involved and got involved and what fire that drew?


In the, ah, in 1973, 74, I was basically, ah, concentrating on going back to college myself. I had started school years before but had not finished and had decided to go back to school. I was not involved in any organizations of, of any kind at that point in time. I was concentrating on, on my kids going to school, on, ah--helping my husband, on getting my kids to school and also furthering my own education. As far as organizations, I didn't have time and I had not been one to become involved in many organizations. Everything changed, once 1974 came and I really felt that it was important, ah, to see where my child was going to school and that was at the McCormick School. We formed a parent advisory council, that was a very active, multi-racial council, not only multi-racial, it was composed of agency people from Columbia Point. We had people from the University of Massachusetts. We had priests and nuns who were involved and it was a, a wonderful group. I became the first, ah, chairperson of that advisory committee. Shortly thereafter, ah, I was invited to the Family Service Association of Greater Boston. Somehow, someone had heard that there was a White woman from South Boston who was complying with the desegregation order and they wanted to meet me. I spoke to the South Shore Advocacy Committee. Became involved with that group. Shortly thereafter--the, ah, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Massachusetts State Advisory Committee invited me to come. They had heard about that White woman from South Boston. And this was, a great change in my life because I had not been involved in organizations. Ah, when it became a little violent in the streets. And then later on it became even more violent in the streets, ah, a group from the Library Center, right in South Boston, invited me to come and speak with them and that was just a small group of some nuns and some priests and people from the D Street Project. Ah, and some mothers who really, truly wanted to send their kids to school and they really, truly were afraid. Ah, my husband also attended that first meeting with me and he and I and, and other people there decided that if there was anything that we could do right in South Boston to prevent some of this violence in the street and it was just unheard of how, how small children were being, being affected because they heard, ah, horrible, horrendous racial epithets in the street. And, you know, kill the niggers and all these things and you just wondered what it would do to, to small kids. And so we decided to form, ah, what we called, the Task Force for Positive Action. It was not a pro-busing group. It was nothing basically to do with the schools at all. We were trying to figure out what could we, this small group do, to, ah, to prevent some of this violence in the street. And we basically were just trying to understand what was triggering it, what was, ah--what was just making life so horrible there. Because South Boston really had the same needs that Roxbury had. We had, they were poor communities and they were two communities that, ah, I don't want to say they were pitted against each other but this is basically how it looked to people and this is what was, what was happening and, and we just were trying to see what we could do to, to prevent that violence. Ah, that was one group that I just became very, very much involved with. And, ah.