Interview with Robert Kiley
QUESTION 9
JACKIE SHEARER:

So I'd like you to describe the relationship between race and politics in Boston.

ROBERT KILEY:

Well by the early 1970s the genie of racism was out of the bottle and stalking around. One of the things that was very interesting about that period 74, 73: leading up to the judges decision as to school desegregation. There was little if any communication going on between Whites and Blacks in what seemed to be an inevitable situation. Ah, there weren't meetings out in the margins. People weren't willing to face up to the fact that one day there was going to have to be work going on together. So I can't help, but, but believe however much we look ba- at that period but ba- at that period and try to rationalize everyone's behavior, that racial feelings were at work and undergirded, ah, what happened in the early 1970s, there's just no way around it. And that genie was stalking around in a way that it got out of control, and it just wasn't able to be managed in the fall of 1974.

JACKIE SHEARER:

I think we lost the end of that, but we got a complet--



JACKIE SHEARER:

So I'd like your perspective from the inside of the relationship between race and city politics in Boston.

ROBERT KILEY:

Well, the question of race and politics in Boston, early 1970s, I guess, turns out not to be that complicated. I was in a somewhat unique situation in that I was a deputy mayor and charged with the responsibility of making the judge's order happen in the fall of 1974. But the genie of racism was already out of the bottle, was stalking the city, and among other things, that made it extremely hard, for even people of good will, Whites and Blacks, to talk to one another on this issue. So that in the months leading up to the judge's findings, in June of '74, and then in the intense months leading up to the opening of school in the fall, racism really did lurk in the background. It had become very volatile, very highly charged, and very difficult to get a dialogue going. I don't think really effective cooperation, collaboration, and communication really started to occur until after school opened, after there had been violent incidents, and then people really got scared and concerned, and you had people from all walks of life, actually waking, up trying to come to their senses. But it took a good year, year and a half to regain control of that situation.

JACKIE SHEARER:

Agreed, cut