South Boston

South Boston High School

Photograph of exterior of South Boston High School. This school was the site of many protests and some of the worst violence during the busing crisis.

South Boston was home for many working class white descendants of Irish immigrants. During the mid-1970s, after the decision was made to desegregate Boston's public schools by busing children outside of their neighborhoods, South Boston developed a reputation for racial intolerance. A large number of violent protests occurred on South Boston streets. On many occasions, residents hurled bricks at buses that carried bring black students into South Boston High School. Images of South Boston protests that turned to riots were inked in newspapers around the country and left many residents wondering what was to happen to their neighborhood.

Reactions to busing in South Boston came in two main forms - those what were incredibly opposed to the idea of busing children out of the neighborhood and those that were astonished at the reaction to busing within South Boston. The first group was composed primarily of long-time residents of who felt a strong sense of community. Their neighborhood schools were an integral part of their community and they viewed the prospect of busing their children to other neighborhoods as a factor that would lead to the dismantling of their community.

But not all South Boston residents opposed busing. A small number of Bostonians who were shocked by the violent reaction to busing lived in South Boston or "Southie" as it was colloquially known. These people could not believe the images that were shown on television screens and in newspapers that depicted South Boston residents using explicitly racist epithets and behaving so violently. Some South Boston residents were ashamed to even admit where they were from when asked. Other Bostonians felt that South Boston's reaction to busing was symptomatic of the racism implicit within the city.

South Boston was very much the epicenter for the busing crisis in Boston. Violent and racist attacks overshadowed the residents who simply wanted their children to remain in their neighborhood and experience the community as they did. The community wanted to remain tightly knit and have control over where its children were educated. However, the extreme response to busing in the neighborhood led to many observers to mark the neighborhood as unwelcoming at best and horribly racist at worst. These memories of Southie from the busing era inform current neighborhood stereotypes.

South Boston Mothers

These are examples of South Boston residents who were opposed to busing based on their conceptions of their community within the neighborhood. These are mothers who want their children to attend school nearby and to become immersed in the community through school sports and other activities.

South Boston's Deplorable Actions

These are examples of people who viewed South Boston's behaviors as unconscionable. While these individuals may not have agreed with the prospect of busing children out of the neighborhood, they were left utterly aghast at the reaction to busing by members of the community.

South Boston