Interview with Kevin White
QUESTION 12
JACKIE SHEARER:

How come Southie?

KEVIN WHITE:

What do you mean, "How come Southie?"

JACKIE SHEARER:

Were you surprised that Southie was the, the place where, where there was so much violence?

KEVIN WHITE:

Well, let me define myself in that I was always seen as , quote, "the man." But I was also fairly young and healthy. And I'm all Irish. I have nothing but Irish blood in me so Southie was a place that had been isolated from me because I'd run against Mrs. Hicks. So I was rejected by Southie. But when I went in there, when I used to argue with the mothers during the summer months, even as I began to try and contain this from spreading any further than Southie, I began to develop not- an empathy or an understanding. All of this was for all of us in the end, the process of education and change. And it, and it, and it was not that I was going to in any way diminish my efforts to enforce the law, or my real sense that, that the Blacks had been cut out of the process. And, and that was repugnant to me. But Southie in fairness is a cohesive community. Just prior to busing, one that a Black could walk with comfort. Much of, I had to realize, of South Boston was fright. And that was the same thing that was in the Black community, obviously misunderstanding, when you say why Southie, Southie had a spirit. I, I, I, I'm out of politics now but South Boston's perceived today somewhat like, ah, nationally, South Africa is to the world: on the wrong side. Southie was positioned wrong, but she was not in all points, I'm not explaining this well. But what I'm trying to say is, oh I get, well let me t--I'm sorry. I didn't mean, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that way. I think that what made South Boston so pronounced, what, what, what positioned South Boston and Roxbury so clearly was that each reflected the fundamental, elemental problem. The Blacks wanted equality. Even if that was poor education. And they represented a determination to fight for that. And the court order gave them a backing. And Southie, in the same pure sense, represented a cohesive community. The community meant more to them than equality or anything else. That that sense of intimacy, of comfort in a cocoon, once, that pride in it, and when you're outside that you came from it, was so pure that those two concepts came unadulterated into conflict, equality or community, and which was to prevail. And I think, I didn't see it then, I see it now. Neither prevails in the end. Each prevails at a different time and place depending upon the significance and the importance of the change. And so at that time it was seen only that you were either for equality or community and you were not allowed the latitude of playing it in the middle without being painted a coward. And so I began to understand that there was a cause in Southie that wasn't being articulated well, even that quality education was not synonymous with equality. The code words were different but I began to understand that they both fought for two concepts. And for the moment I was one who believed that at some sacrifice for the moment, equality was the higher cause, for the moment.