Interview with Alan Lupo

So can you give us that story?


During busing, in my own community, which is just on the Boston border. It's a self-governing town, it's not part of the city, it's technically a suburb. About 20,000 people in one square mile. A number of us decided it would be a good idea to get involved in the METCO program, in which Black youngsters are bused voluntarily to suburban neighborhoods. The state pays the cost, and the White kids stay in their own school. We had our heads handed to us by our own neighbors. Some of it was racism, which of course everyone denied. A lot of it was fear. And what it was essentially was a precursor of what was going to begin happening outside the big cities. The fear, the racism, the anxiety of being outside the big city, and wondering who's next in this revolution that nobody seemed to understand. People who had known me for years continued to be my friends, and I am their friend during all of this, but they let me know in no uncertain terms, and with much discomfort sometimes on their own part, that this was not going to happen. And indeed it didn't. Our school committee voted four to one against it. And what was this piece of trauma, what were we talking about? We were talking about 18 Black youngsters, aged 5 to what, 18, coming in every day on a bus, and filling up empty seats in our adequate but not extraordinary school system. Wholesome people said, "No, it's a long trip. It could be dangerous for them." "We don't have enough empty seats," they said. Well, the Blacks were willing to take the long trip. They were willing to encounter whatever real or alleged danger might have existed. And as far as no empty seats, we subsequently closed two schools for lack of students. But I could tell that people were afraid. And I'm not sure, and I don't know if they were sure what it was that scared them.