Interview with Ruth Batson

Tell me, why were you afraid of reaction in South Boston?


Well, because as a child we had encountered the um, the wrath of um, people in South Boston. And I just felt that they were bigoted. I just felt that they made it very clear that they didn't like Black people. And I was prepared for them not to want um, Black students coming to the school. Plus, which they said it! I mean, they made it very clear. The other thing was that there was absolutely no preparation made for this transition. Um. There were a couple of um, ah, athletes and other people who would go on TV and they would say, you know, "We have a--this thing that we have to, hap--have happen in our city. We're going to be busing kids and so forth and so on. And um, we have to be brave about it." And you say to yourself, "Well, what are they expecting?" Here were little children that were going to a school and they were talking about being brave as if some alien from some planet was coming into the school. I never heard any public official on the state level or on the city level come out and say, "This is a good thing. We should all learn together. We should all live together." There was no encouragement from anybody. I call it complete official neglect. And so therefore there was no preparation being made. Then those of us who knew the police departments and so forth felt that, many of them lived in South Boston. And how were they going to divide their loyalties? And so we felt that this was not going to be a happy occasion, and we were right.