Interview with Kevin White

I want to go to the first day of school, September 12, 1974. You get up in the morning, what do you do?


Well, I did what was least expected, surprisingly enough. Ah, because I had become so controversial over the years, in this issue primarily, because the Whites thought I was so partisan to the Blacks, and, uh, because I had been all summer at the focal point, all of those involved with public safety and my staff, felt that the last thing I should do is physically show up on the scene. So ironically enough, the decision was, in a way, put the mayor aside, his role, for the day, was finished. And that I could only exacerbate it by my presence. So when I got up that morning, it was the first morning I hadn't been met by my drivers and driven to whatever place my schedule dictated. I drove myself, uh, back, uh, really to where I grew up in a way, I went back to, uh, I came from West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and I drove to a, uh, a fairly secluded spot. It's called an ah--arboretum, uh, on a hill, that could overlook Boston from a distance. I wasn't getting that dramatic, but it was a place where I could be quiet and be away. I was in my own car. And I turned on the radio, and that I could listen. All the radio stations were carrying, uh, the movement of the buses, so in a way I could follow it early in the morning. And as I was sitting on, uh, in the car, with the door open really, I looked up and two young boys were coming across the knoll, and that was unusual. It was school time. And they stopped and, at the moment they didn't recognize me, and then one of them did. And I said, "Why aren't you in school?" And, uh, one of them said to me, uh, "My mother, our mothers told us not to go to school, there's going to be trouble." And I just looked at them, they walked across, and, uh, I couldn't help reflect that I came from the same school they did, or the same neighborhood. I had an idea they had no idea what was happening. It was just, it was adult problems, not theirs. And, uh, I stayed there for about two hours, three hours, and then I began to head in town back to city hall, and then I knew that, uh, that the day and the next week was going to be longer than I thought, and maybe more difficult, and so my apprehensions escalated.