By the 1970s Roxbury had become a neighborhood classified as "majority minority"--a term used in the United States to indicate a jurisdiction whose population is composed of less than 50% non-Hispanic whites. The neighborhood that provided a home to many of Boston's black residents was also the site of many of Boston’s most dilapidated, poorly-funded and worst-performing schools. Many white residents of other neighborhoods opposed having their children bused to schools in Roxbury because the area had a higher rate of crime and poorly assessed school system.
While white Bostonians were more apt to be happy with their neighborhood public schools, this was not the case for the black residents of Roxbury. Because of severe underfunding and understaffing, students were not performing at the same level as students elsewhere in the city. Judge Garrity's decision to bus students to different schools in the city was an attempt to fix the educational disparity between the majority black schools and the majority white schools.
Not every white Bostonian was afraid to have their children bused to Roxbury. The multitudes who wrote letters to city officials expressed fear for their children’s well-being. While some of those fears were likely predicated by racist undertones, many parents wrote about the importance of their neighborhood schools and the community in which they were raising their children.
Afraid of Roxbury
Those who were afraid of Roxbury expressed in no uncertain terms what the neighborhood meant to them. The letters below spell out why some residents did not want their children to be bused to schools in Roxbury. References to crime abound in these few letters, and the authors are very clear in their denunciation of Roxbury as separate from their neighborhoods.
Not every Bostonian felt that Roxbury was a dangerous neighborhood to be avoided at all costs. This letter, written by a Roxbury resident, applauds Boston's black residents' response to busing while describing the white South Boston residents as a "rowdy bunch" desperately in need of re-education.
While the author decries the actions of the South Boston residents, they are very much in favor of busing. They write, "integration of Boston's schools would not only benefit poor Browns, Blacks, Reds, and Yellows, but the White Minority...would in fact gain more from such a union..." This author believed that desegregation of Boston's schools would benefit the entire city, and they were pleased that the city was attempting to amend the inequality in education.
The belief that busing was important to the city was repeated by those in favor of the program, while those opposed to it saw the erosion of their coveted neighborhood communities. Roxbury residents saw the opportunity for better education for their children, while residents of other neighborhoods saw danger and the collapse of a pillar of their communities.