Interview with Ellen Jackson
QUESTION 11
JACKIE SHEARER:

OK so you're at Rosie High.

ELLEN JACKSON:

We were at Roslindale High.

JACKIE SHEARER:

Could you begin again.

ELLEN JACKSON:

Certainly. We were at Roslindale High and, ah, we were just concerned about what we saw and that was total mass confusion. Kids were running, Black kids were running to try and get on the buses. And White kids were running around trying to get away from the area where the fighting was going on. Adults were trying to separate kids. And, ah, and after awhile, ah, and the tactical police force was there. And then there was some other, ah, Boston police there. And MDC police. And they were able to separate. And for some of the other activities that were happening throughout the city, that was what we would call a mild skirmish. We got back, but one interesting thing happened while we were there. As we were pulling up, ah, Cummings Highway, we had to inch, the cruiser of the command car into it because kids were running across the street. Now on the side of the Boston police car it says, in big bold blue letters, "Boston Police". I mean you know it's blue and White. And also it says "commander". And I'll never forget, it just dawned on me. There were two little White girls going across, and they were scared. I mean in their small way they were scared. So the car was moving and they just spit right on the windshield and wouldn't move. And just stood there. And there were two big Boston policemen looking at them and they never pulled them out of the way. Here is the commander and they never pulled them out. I mean so that's the kind of, of, of, ah, fervor that was being expressed. You know hatred and fear and all that all rolled up in one makes a terrible bomb in a sense. And the superintendent Chase said to us, this happens all the time. You know I'm kind of used to it. I wasn't, frankly. But you know, there's days by that I possibly would have not payed much attention. I didn't expect to see this in '74. But anyway by the time we finally moved around they, you know, moved them the children and we got out and, ah, the action took place and we got back in the car. And he was going to drop us back at Freedom House. So we turned the car around, we came back down Washington Street through Roslindale Square. And all of a sudden a code message came over. And he said something back and we didn't think much of it. And we noticed however that we weren't headed back toward Freedom House on the East side. Ah, but we were keeping straight down Washington Street toward Forest Hills. And when we got to Forest Hills in a sense, ah, two other cruisers pulled up to us and he got out of the car. He said, "I'm sorry," he said, "I can't take you back." He said "We've had a terrible, ah, incident happen at South Boston High. And we're going to have to go over that way. But I'll let you off at Bayside Mall." So we said, "OK what happened?" And he didn't say anything when we were driving along. Then, ah, the radio said that, ah, the police radio said something that the young man had been stabbed. It was confirmed he had been stabbed. I said, "Oh my God." Our first thought, for any child, but first of all thought it was one of our kids. And then we realized it wasn't one of the Black students. And we said, "Oh God, what is going to happen?" So the sirens went on and we went, and we've been through many of those kinds of rides where the wheels never hit the ground and we went off. And we got over to Bayside Mall, got out of the car. By this time a large gathering of folks had come together. Police, the tactical police squad was there. And the MDC, the state police, everyone was out there. And parents had begun to come to the mall and were asking how they were going to get the kids out of there. Why weren't the busses up at the school? And they weren't getting any answers. But in fairness at that point, it was discussion about the best way to get those kids out. Because what was happening up at the school at South Boston High, was a very, very dangerous situation.