Legacy of busing should herald long, hard work of black community

John W. McCormack School students waited at a bus stop at Columbia Point in September 1974.
File/The Boston Globe
John W. McCormack School students waited at a bus stop at Columbia Point in September 1974.

Re “A gap wider than ever” by Yvonne Abraham (Metro, June 22): School desegregation DID NOT START on June 21, 1974. The black education movement, which brought the Morgan v. Hennigan case to federal court, had its roots in the 1950s and ’60s. The Boston narrative should not be one of a city traumatized because of buses. Black children were being transported away from public schools that were already traumatizing, overcrowded, and ill-equipped and on to schools throughout the city with better resources. This was done to give them a fair shot at better educational opportunities.

There is a much deeper, more authentic history of desegregation than what is written in J. Anthony Lukas’s “Common Ground.” Leadership came from those who were most seriously affected by Boston’s segregated schools — the black community. Leaders in this struggle included Ruth Batson, Paul Parks, Mel King, Thomas Atkins, Royal Bolling Sr., William Owens, Kenneth Guscott, Ellen Jackson, and hundreds more, black and white, young and old.

There were organized movements of Boston high school students, parents, and alternative schools, all working against segregated education.


Boston school desegregation history should herald the long, hard work of Boston’s black community. In 2014, the legacy should be about a black community steeped in pride and purpose. We were saving our children from schools that were killing them.

Lyda S. Peters


The writer is a professor of education at Cambridge College and was a Boston public school teacher from 1965 to 1968.