Interview with Thomas Atkins

OK, now I would like you to go back in time to when you were telling us about some of the various opinions within the Black community. I want you to give me a reading of Black political power in the city leading up to deseg.


One of the real problems that, that the Black community faced was that relatively speaking it was small. Ah, we did not have a large enough community to control any political event, per se. And it showed itself in many ways, one of the ways it showed itself around the school issue, is because of the rich diversity of, of views as to what ought to happen, ah, one of the views was that we should just recognize that Black children were going to be mistreated if White folks were in charge of them and get control of our schools, run them ourselves, hire the teachers and teach our kids ourself. And it was an attractive notion but I and, and many other people in the community concluded that it simply wasn't a practical approach whatever your ideological views might be on integration. It wasn't a practical approach. What it, it depended on a notion that we were going to make a deal with somebody, the School Committee, the State, whoever. But we knew we didn't have the power to enforce the deal. If we made the deal and they broke it, what could we do about it? And so we said, "Separatism in Boston is not going to work."