In elementary school, Talullah Morgan read from a book so old it had her friend’s father’s name scrawled inside. By the time she got sent to a middle school with white kids, she had to work hard to catch up. She wanted better for her own four children, so she lent her name to a lawsuit, Morgan v. Hennigan, that’s now famous. Or infamous, depending on who you talk to.
The judge’s decision, issued 40 years ago, brought about forced busing and roiled Boston in a way we have yet to fully come to terms with. Extremists firebombed houses. A white kid got stabbed. A black football player got shot. Disillusioned and frightened by the negative forces that had been unleashed, nearly all the black parents on Morgan’s lawsuit moved away, along with countless white families who similarly escaped.
Morgan is now a 71-year-old grandmother living in the suburbs. She doesn’t give interviews to reporters who show up on her doorstep. Nor did she attend the special session at Boston City Hall on Thursday night to commemorate the anniversary of the busing decision.
But many, many others did. They packed the seats of the public gallery for a communal reckoning that felt like part history lesson, part church service, part truth and reconciliation commission.
Christine Boseman, a black woman from Dorchester, stood at the microphone and said: “I’m here because I want you guys to know that it was awful.”
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