Interview with Juanita Wade

How did you feel about the NAACP's suit against the School Committee for desegregation?


Well, in 1972, parents, I guess, had come to the end of their rope, and worked with the NAACP to bring suit against the Boston School Committee for its segregationist policies, particularly as it impacted African American students. Young African American children in elementary school were tracked into particular middle schools and then tracked into particular high schools. So the options of going to some of the high schools that offered car- different career options were not available to the majority of African American high school students. While I felt very strongly, and many parents understood why the suit was necessary, um, we were demanding quality education, we were demanding the right to attend any high school we chose in safety, that was not happening, so we understood why it was important to fight the legal battle, but parents also felt, many parents felt that the legal battle was being fought for the wrong thing. Parents were struggling for quality education. In fact, the NAACP suit focused primarily on where children ascend--attended school. Their assumption was that any school that had 51 percent, um, minority students or more was an inferior program, and therefore, they needed to change the numbers so that no school would have a majority children of color. Therefore, the resources would get allocated to where the White students were, and therefore the Black children and other minority students would get the benefit of those resources. I think that assumption, when you look at it on the surface, may sound right, um, but all the lawsuit did was mix children around, and the burden of African American children, moving from schools that were close to home to schools all over the city was a tremendous one, and I think, unfortunately, a detrimental one.