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The Decades Long Road To School Desegregation

A look back at the court-ordered social integration that sparked racial turmoil in Boston in the 1970s, as black and white kids were bused together.

9pm Thursday AMERICAN EXPERIENCE – The Busing Battleground - Documentary
Revisit 1970s Boston, when court-mandated school integration unleashed racial unrest.

On September 12, 1974, police were stationed outside schools across Boston as Black and white students were bused for the first time between neighborhoods to comply with a federal court desegregation order. The cross-town busing was met with shocking violence, much of it directed at children: angry white protestors threw rocks at school buses carrying Black children and hurled racial epithets at the students as they walked into their new schools. The chaos and racial unrest would escalate and continue for years.

American Experience: The Busing Battleground

Using eyewitness accounts, oral histories and news footage that hasn’t been seen in decades, The Busing Battleground pulls back the curtain on the volatile effort to end school segregation, detailing the decades-long struggle for educational equity that preceded the crisis. It illustrates how civil rights battles had to be fought across the North as well as the South and reckons with the class dimensions of the desegregation saga, exploring how the neighborhoods most impacted by the court’s order were the poorest in the city.


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