Interview with Alan Lupo

Excellent. So, now, let me ask you this. If you could write the lead paragraph describing the first day of desegregation of Boston public schools in '74, how would it go?


You are now standing in front of South Boston High School that day in 1974. And the buses rolled up and some of the violence began, as was expected. But the story that came out of Boston was the story only of violence. And had I been a reporter of that day, writing that story, I think I would have said something like this. "Despite a couple of centuries of racism and bigotry and class warfare, Boston began desegregating its schools today with a minimum of violence." Because the real story of Boston is the story of two cities. It's a story of the traditional, alleged, liberal abolitionist Boston, the progressive Boston, the folk who sent Cesar Chavez money for his grape union. The folks who supported the Hungarian Revolution in 1800 something. But the other Boston is a very hidebound, distrustful, turf conscious, class conscious, parochial city, full of people who did not make much progress over the years. I'm talking about White folks. They were not middle income people. They were poor folk and they were running hard-scrabble operations. And they were scared folk. And they had had plenty of things done to them. Highways had come through their living rooms. Nobody bothered to ask. Airports expanded into their neighborhoods. Nobody bothered to ask. Some of their neighborhoods had been torn down totally, two of them integrated neighborhoods. Nobody bothered to ask them. By the time busing came around, these people were ripe for revolution**