Interview with Ruth Batson
QUESTION 1
JACKIE SHEARER:

So Mrs. Batson, when your kids were in school were you satisfied with the quality of the education that they were getting?

RUTH BATSON:

No, I wasn't. But I wasn't sure of why I wasn't satisfied. Ah, there had been a group that had been started in Boston called Parents' Federation, so because I was always interested in education I joined that group and started going to some of their meetings. But then somebody came out and said that a couple of the members in the group were communists and so that broke up that group. In the meantime I was living in the Orchard Park Housing Project and two of my children were attending the Dearborn School. And I was very concerned with their education because I had the feeling from talking with other parents in other parts of the city that the education was different. And because I was convinced of that I went up to the school and I first talked to the principal and he said, "Oh no, no, all the curriculum material is the same." I talked to the teacher and she told me the same thing. And then after a while I noticed that the daughter that I was speaking about in particular began to get science projects. You know, she would come home and she'd have this science project. One of them, the first one she had was talking from room to room on one of those, you know, those can things. And I was very pleased. I said, "Gee, this is nice." This is encouraging, until I heard her saying, "I don't know why I'm the only one with a science project." So I thought this was strange, so I called, "Are you the only kid in your class with a science project?" And she said, "Yes." So then I thought I'd ignore it. I was a young mother with three little kids. And I said, you know, at least I've got this in my school, I'm not going to worry about it. But it bothered me. And I read in the paper that an organization called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had opened an office on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Tremont Street. So one day I went up there and I saw the President. And I told him this story and I told him that based on the other meetings that I had attended that I felt that something was wrong in the school and particularly in the schools where Black kids were. And the President said to me, well, I'll tell you, he says, we have an educational committee, but our committee deals with scholarships and counseling. We don't have a committee that deals with public school things, and so I'm afraid we can't be very helpful. That was an answer that I found very strange. But I came out and I was kind of discouraged and trying to figure out, well, what should happen in this case. And about three days later the President called me and said, "Um, Mrs. Batson, we've decided to set up a subcommittee which we will call the Public School Committee, and um, we'd like to ask you if you would be the chairperson of that committee." Well, I was so excited, you know, I thought this was wonderful. But that determined my life. My whole life has been pointed in that direction and the improvement of education for Black kids.