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Pam Bullard reports on an anti-busing demonstration at City Hall Plaza
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Program:
September in Boston
Original Airdate: 9/9/1974

Length: 00:59:10
Item Type: newstape - aircheck


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Full Description

1:21:39
Promotion for a WGBH special, The Pardon: A New Debate. A promotion for September in Boston.

1:22:06
Opening credits for A Compass Special: September in Boston. Ed Baumeister introduces the broadcast, which focuses on the opening of Boston schools under the court-ordered desegregation plan. Baumeister is in the studio with volunteers working the phones. He urges parents to call the studio for information regarding bus routes and the transportation of their children to and from school. Baumeister introduces a videotaped message from Kevin White (Mayor, City of Boston).

1:23:32
Kevin White sits at a desk, flanked by an American flag and a Massachusetts state flag. White says that court-ordered busing will begin on the first day of school in three days; that busing will be a challenge to all city residents; that busing was not imposed to advance the interests of any one group. White says that city residents must rise to this challenge in order to protect children and to preserve their pride in the city. White says that he has visited over 100 homes to meet with parents of school-aged children; that he has tried to listen to the concerns and fears of white and African American parents. He describes meeting with an African American mother in Mattapan, whose children will be bused across the city to two separate schools. He acknowledges that parents in Hyde Park are angry at losing a middle school; that parents in West Roxbury are reluctant to bus kindergarten students. White says that he has not sought the advice of suburbanites who applaud busing as long as it stays within the city limits. White refers to a "suburban seige mentality" in the suburbs and cites unsuccessful efforts to metropolitanize busing. White says that the sincerity and judgement of suburbanites cannot be trusted; that he has tried to consult with parents, students, and teachers throughout the city. White says that busing will not be easy; that it is a difficult time to be a senior in high school, the parent of a school-aged child or the mayor of the City of Boston. White reminds viewers that busing has been mandated by the federal court; that the city has spent over $250,000 on unsuccessful legal appeals; that busing will be a burden for some residents; that the law must be obeyed. White says that the city cannot afford to be polarized by race or paralyzed by fear. White says that the city draws its strength from its neighborhoods; that this strength must be channeled toward unity, the respect of differences, the preservation of ethnic identity, and a spirit of cooperation and trust. White urges cooperation and unity among neighborhoods and residents to make busing work. White reminds viewers that he is for integration but against forced busing. White says that opponents of busing have a legitimate right to speak out peacefully against it. He says that the city will take whatever measures are necessary to preserve public safety. White reminds citizens of their duty to preserve public safety and the safety of children. White says that the city will not tolerate violence or threats against schoolchildren; that those who violate the court order will be arrested and prosecuted. White reminds the anti-busing opposition that compliance with the law does not mean acceptance of the law. He says that a boycott of the schools will only hurt the children who are denied an education; that a good education is essential for all children. White says that the Boston Public School System is the oldest in the nation; that its rich legacy must be upheld; that busing must not get in the way of good education in the schools. White reminds viewers that nothing can be achieved through racial conflict; that city and school officials have been working hard to implement the busing plan and to make it work efficiently. White describes efforts by the city and school department to ease the transition into busing: the organization of a 24-hour school information center to answer questions and to provide assistance to parents, students, and teachers; the organization of neighborhood teams to handle problems in the neighborhoods; the hiring of over 300 bus monitors to ride the buses with students; the hiring of over 125 additional school crossing guards; the placement of transitional aides in schools and volunteers at bus stops. White reminds viewers that overcrowding has been alleviated this year; that the start of school has been delayed to allow adequate preparation for the plan. White urges all parents to attend open houses at the schools before making any decisions to transfer students from the schools. White appeals to teachers, parents, and students to do their best to make busing work. He says that the critical challenge posed by busing must be met with compassion, dignity, and courage by all residents.

1:39:35
Baumeister urges parents to call the studio for information. Volunteers in the studio are answering phones. Pam Bullard reports on school desegregation in Boston. She reports that desegregation will be implemented through the state's racial balance plan; that outlying areas of the city, including East Boston, Charlestown, West Roxbury and South Boston's elementary schools, will be unaffected by the plan; that the plan focuses on schools in Roxbury and Dorchester. Bullard reports that 18,235 students will be bused under the plan; that 8,510 white students and 9,725 African American students will be bused.

Visual: Still photo of students in front of a school bus, smiling at the camera.

Bullard reports that 80 schools out of 204 will be affected by desegregation; that 60 schools will have students bused in; that 240 buses will be needed to transport students; that the majority of students will not travel more than 1.5 miles. Bullard reports that 23% of students were in integrated classrooms in 1973; that under the state plan, 71% of students will attend integrated schools in 1974.

V: Still photo of African American high school students at the entrance to a school.

Bullard reports that 30,000 Boston students were bused to schools last year; that only 3,000 students were bused for racial reasons last year. Bullard reports that the desegregation plan has brought a uniform grade structure to the Boston Public Schools; that previous grade structure systems resulted in segregated schools; that the new system mandates elementary schools as K - 5, middle schools as grades 6 - 8, and high schools as grades 9 - 12. Bullard reports that further desegregation orders are expected from the federal court after this year; that other cities such as San Francisco, Pasadena, and Denver have survived school desegregation in recent years.

1:42:54
Baumeister reminds parents that WGBH's in-studio operators have information on the bus routes. Judy Stoia tells viewers to call in with their child's street address and grade level; that operators can tell parents where the child has been assigned to school, when and where a bus will come to pick up the child, what time school begins and how to contact the school. Stoia reports that most callers so far have asked questions about bus routes and school opening times.

1:44:38
Bullard reports on today's anti-busing demonstration at City Hall Plaza. Bullard reminds viewers that there have been frequent anti-busing demonstrations in Boston over the past ten years; that today's demonstration takes place three days before busing begins; that demonstrators were angry. Bullard speculates as to whether today's demonstration will be the anti-busing movement's last unified protest against busing.

V: Footage of marchers gathering on City Hall Plaza.

Bullard reports that politicians Dapper O'Neill (City Council), John Kerrigan (Boston School Committee) and Louise Day Hicks (City Council) were at the head of the march; that mothers, fathers and children from all over the city joined the march.

V: Footage of white adults and children marching with protest signs. Shots of signs reading "Impeach Kennedy and Brooke" and "Swim for your lives, Kennedy is driving the bus."

Bullard reports that protestors gathered outside of the JFK Federal Building; that the protesters wanted to express disapproval of the pro-busing positions of US Senators Edward Kennedy and Edward Brooke. Bullard reports that the protestors carried signs reading "Ted and Ed, wish you were dead"; that some marchers shouted remarks about Brooke's race and Kennedy's involvement in the Chappaquiddick scandal. Bullard reports that Judge W. Arthur Garrity was also the object of insults from the marchers; that many protesters carried teabags which were meant to symbolize the protesters of the Boston Tea Party.

V: Footage of a woman unwrapping a tea bag. She carries a sign reading, "The City of Boston has no classroom for my child."

Bullard reports that the marchers carried American flags; that some wore anti-busing T-shirts. Bullard remarks that their was a note of desperation in the chants of the marchers.

V: Shot of a T-shirt reading, "Hell No! Southie Won't Go!" Footage of marchers chanting "East Boston says no."

Bullard notes that there were no African Americans present at the protest; that African Americans had been present at previous anti-busing protests. Bullard reports that the white marchers made a display of patriotism; that they recited the pledge of allegiance and sang "God Bless America"; that marchers dressed as members of the Supreme Court exited a yellow school bus while a speaker accused the justices of selling America down the river. Bullard remarks that many of the protesters invoked the rights of white people; that racial rhetoric was not heard in previous demonstrations. Bullard says that the marchers displayed great concern for safety in schools; that the marchers were serious in their protest of the court order.

V: Footage of white female protester saying that she has participated in every anti-busing protest over the past nine years; that the demonstrations have become larger; that the marchers are angry because they have been ignored and "their backs are up against a wall"; that the marches are always peaceful.

Bullard reports that Kennedy was met with outright hostility from the protesters when he tried to speak to the marchers. Bullard says that neither Kennedy nor other speakers could calm the crowd; that the crowd turned their back on Kennedy; that the crowd pelted Kennedy with tomatoes and newspapers as he walked back to the Federal Building.

V: Footage of protesters booing Kennedy as he walks among them to a platform. Footage of Kennedy walking toward Federal Building; of a few objects being thrown as the crowd follows him to the entrance of the building; of a hostile crowd at the entrance of the building as they beat on the windows. The sound of shattering glass is heard. Shots of a broken window at the federal building; of an angry crowd outside.

Bullard reports that the speakers did not try to dissuade the crowd from pursuing Kennedy into the building; that the speakers criticized Kennedy even after the incident; that few in the crowd expressed dismay at the incident; that some in the crowd flatly denied the incident. Bullard reports that one observer said that "Kennedy was the catalyst" for an incident that was bound to happen. Bullard says that Kennedy had condemned violence that morning; that many hope that the protester's feelings of anger do not turn into violence at the opening of schools.

1:50:42
Baumeister urges parents to call the studio for information about bus routes and schools. Volunteers in the studio are answering phones. Stoia introduces volunteer Shirley Campbell (Citywide Education Coalition).

V: Video on tape cuts out. Brief clip of a caesar salad being prepared by Julia Child.

1:51:45
V: Black and white video.

Paul Russell (Deputy Superintendent, Boston Police Department) is interviewed in the studio by Baumeister and Bullard. Russell says that there is strong parental opposition to busing in some sections of the city; that some parents will not allow their children to be bused. Russell reports that some opponents of busing had been encouraging parents and senior citizens to occupy seats in the classrooms of their neighborhood schools; that anti-busing sentiment is strongest in two sections of the city; that most residents seem concerned for the safety of schoolchildren. Russell says that the police do not get involved in enforcing school attendance; that school attendance requirements are enforced by the school department and school attendance supervisors. Russell says that he will not divulge the number of police officers to be deployed on the first day of school; that the police department will work to ensure the safety of schoolchildren. Russell says that he believes the police department has done all that it can to prepare for the opening of schools; that the police are drawing on their experience in controlling crowds during periods of campus unrest in Boston in the 1960s and 1970s. Russell says that the Boston Police Department has received visits from representatives of police departments in Prince George's County in Maryland, Seattle, Rochester, NY and Pontiac MI; that each of these areas has also undergone school desegregation; that it is hard to compare these areas because they are all so different.

V: Shot of volunteers answering phones.

Russell admits that some police officers have strong feelings against busing; that their families may be involved in the anti-busing movement. Russell is confident that Boston police officers will subordinate their personal feelings to their professional duties.

V: Color video returns.

Russell says that the police will stay on alert through the weekend and into next week; that they will assess the events of each passing day before changing tactics. Russell says that there is a communications center at City Hall to ensure good communication between the police department, the school department, the fire department, the MDC police department, and other organizations. Russell says that district police officers have been trying to identify and establish contact with youth through the city's Youth Activity Commission staff; that police are trying to reach out to students and the community. Russell says that police officers may patrol the perimeters of the schools; that police officers will not be stationed inside the schools. Baumeister asks about police presence at South Boston High School. Russell says that the police are taking a low visibility approach; that they will rely on their community service officers and their juvenile officers; that the juvenile officers know the students and can easily identify troublemakers. Baumeister thanks Russell.

1:57:56
Baumeister introduces Stoia's report on open houses at the Boston schools. Stoia reports that John Kenney (Jamaica Plain resident) is white and strongly supports school integration; that Kenney is not upset about his daughter's assignment to English High School.

V: Footage of the Kenney family cleaning their backyard pool. Kenney says that he attended integrated schools; that the schools will be integrated peacefully if parents do not incite their children to violence.

Stoia reports that Kenney attended an open house at English High School with his daughter, Paula; that Paula has no problems with the integration process; that she is apprehensive about attending a new school.

V: Footage of John, Paula and Paula's sister approaching the entrance of English High School. Audio of Paula saying that she was disappointed to be assigned to the English High School because she would be separated from her friends; that she thinks she will do well at English High School because it is a good school. Shots of the Kenneys on an escalator in the school; of a poster reminding students to get an eye exam. Footage of the school nurse talking to students and parents, including the Kenneys. Audio of Paula saying that she will be nervous about eating in the cafeteria if she does not know anyone; that she is confident that she will make friends. Shot of the pool at English High School. Footage of Robert Peterkin (Headmaster, English High School) greeting parents and students. Shot of Paula and her father listening to Peterkin.

Stoia reports that many white parents will ignore the boycott; that many white students will be present on the opening day of school.

2:01:10
School opening times are listed on the screen over a shot of in-studio volunteers. High schools: 8:00 - 2:00; English High School: 8:40 - 2:40; middle schools: 8:40 - 2:40; elementary schools: 9:30 - 3:30.

2:01:21
Baumeister urges parents to call the studio. Baumeister and Bullard interview William Reid (Headmaster, South Boston High School). Bullard comments that South Boston is the most complex school district in the city. She asks Reid to explain school assignments in South Boston. Reid says that the South Boston High School building will have South Boston seniors and all of the sophomores from the combined Roxbury-South Boston area; that Girls High School on Greenville Avenue (Roxbury High School) will have juniors and some seniors from the Roxbury area; that the annexes will be located at the L Street Bathhouse, the Hart School and the Dean School; that the projected enrollment for grade 9 is 1300 students. Reid says that there will be 1300 or 1400 students at South Boston High School; that Roxbury High School will have 900-1000 students; that there is an approximate total of 4000 students. Reid says that the student population will be 37% African American; that his staff has sent letters to all students listing school assignments and transportation information. Baumeister comments that Reid was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying that students who didn't want to come to school "could be my guest at the beach." Reid says that he would prefer truant students to be at the beach instead of in front of the high school. Reid says that the faculty and staff are well prepared; that preparations have been made to ensure the safety of students. Baumeister comments that the student body at South Boston High School had been homogeneous before this year. He asks if the staff is ready to deal with students who are more unruly than usual, or "able to play football with the New England Patriots." Reid says that two-thirds of the students in South Boston High School will be from South Boston; that the staff knows the South Boston senior class very well and can communicate effectively with them. Reid says that there will be faculty members who are familiar with the Roxbury students. Reid says that student leaders were invited to a task force meeting over the summer; that student leaders suggested holding a student information night; that the student information night was held last week. Reid says that he has been trying to communicate with the Roxbury community; that Roxbury students will be treated fairly at South Boston High School. Bullard comments that attendance was low at South Boston High School's open house. Reid says that he thinks that Roxbury students will attend school. Reid says that there may be low attendance among South Boston students; that South Boston students are upset about school integration; that "youngsters are the pawns in this situation." Reid adds that many students want to attend school; that students are being taken advantage of in this situation. Reid says that students should obey their parents as to whether or not to attend school. Baumeister asks if students should boycott school if their parents tell them to do so. Reid says yes. Reid says that patience will resolve this situation; that some students will use integration as an excuse to drop out of school.

2:10:00
Baumeister reminds parents to call the studio for bus route information. Stoia introduces Cindy Berman (volunteer). Berman says that most of the phone calls concern school assignments and transportation; that some parents are concerned about young children walking long distances. Berman says that many parents have called with questions; that she does not know how much information parents have received; that some parents did not receive information if they changed addresses over the summer. Stoia introduces Ann Damon. Damon says that she has received many calls about bus routes; that many parents already know their child's school assignment; that parents did not seem upset about the situation.

2:12:08
Baumeister interviews Tom Duffy, Dalton Baugh and Joe Glynn, who represent the city's Youth Activity Commission. Duffy and Glynn are white and Baugh is African American. Baumeister asks them about the role of the Youth Activity Commission. Glynn says that the commission has a mandate from the mayor to assure the safety of Boston students. Duffy talks about the Student Involvement Program. He says that the commission has tried to reach out to students attending certain schools. Baugh says that students he works with in Mattapan and north Dorchester are anxious to return to school; that students are more concerned about school facilities and programs than about integration. Baugh adds that he works with African American and Hispanic students; that these students seem less apprehensive than adults about school integration. Duffy says that he works with white students in Roslindale; that some of these students see integration as an infringement upon their school; that the majority of these students seem willing to help make integration work. Duffy says that the commission is working on a leadership development program; that African American and white student leaders were charged with developing activities and programs for the schools. Baugh says that the student leaders helped develop programs involving white and African American students at targeted schools; that the students were paid as consultants. Baumeister asks what the role of the commission will be on the first day of school. Baugh says that the commission's youth advocates will be in the schools and at bus stops; that the youth advocates will work to minimize conflict and to make contact with the students. Glynn comments that the youth advocates will be working in racially integrated pairs. Duffy says that the commission has made an effort over the summer to identify student leaders at various schools. Baumeister thanks them and closes the interview.

2:17:54
Baumeister reports that Boston's TV stations do not want their coverage of busing to "become part of the story." Baumeister adds that the media are aware that the presence of news cameras can inspire action instead of recording it. Baumeister reports that electronic media learned in the 1960s that they could be used by demonstrators looking for publicity. Baumeister quotes Mel Bernstein of WNAC-TV and Bill Wheatley of WBZ-TV on their efforts at making busing coverage unobtrusive. Baumeister reports that Jim Thistle of WCVB-TV has instructed camera crews to maintain a low profile; that there will be no live coverage at the schools on opening day; that Channel 5 has chosen not to use its live camera at the schools because it is too "large and visible." Baumeister reports that most coverage will be within regularly scheduled newscasts; that TV stations will maintain flexibility for special programming; that TV stations will have cameras at City Hall for live reports from officials. Baumeister runs down the schedule of reports on WGBH. Baumeister closes the show. Credits roll over shots of in-studio operators.


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