After Hale and Dorr packed up its bags an withdrew from the case, it then fell into the lap of my firm. By that time Garrity had already begun busing students here, there and everywhere under the Board plan but what was on paper turned out to be very helter-skelter when implemented.
Garrity wanted a better plan. This would be the Phase 2 plan. The first big event was the hearing before the four masters appointed by Garrity to listen to the different plans that had been offered by various parties most of which involved busing. The masters aided by two independent “experts” were charged with recommending one to the judge. I handled the case for the Committee that lasted about two weeks. At least a half a dozen lawyers were representing other. parties.
The Committee offered a plan that involved establishing small magnet schools in neutral areas that would be racially balanced. They would be so good that most parents interested in their child’s education would be attracted to them even though they may contain kids of another race. That was given short shrift. For one reason, the Committee had become the bête noire of the judge, and the other, the idea of forcing people to do things they’d prefer not to do seemed to have an inordinate appeal to some.
You know the result. Garrity instituted a busing plan targeting mainly South Boston, another bête noire of “right thinking” people. The folks there resisted causing the judge to double down on them. South Boston High School would have crowds around it shouting at the black students entering it from yellow school buses; rocks would be thrown at buses carrying innocent kids; state troopers would be assigned to the corridors to keep peace; and every action taken there was put under a microscope by the judge who even decided the type of basketballs the team would practice with. The one thing lacking at South Boston High and many other schools in the city subject to a white boycott was education – it seemed odd in a case that was brought to better the education of black students.
All sections of Boston were impacted in an effort to achieve more racially balanced schools. That white parents were unwilling to have their kids go to school with blacks was conclusively shown by their reaction to the busing orders. They fled the Boston public schools fearful that their children would be sent into neighborhoods they believed were both hostile and dangerous. Also, unwilling to have their children subject to an experiment that had little to do with education. They went to private, parochial and suburban schools in a phenomenon known as “white flight.” Those who tried to stay were driven out after two years when they were notified their children were going to be assigned to the third different school that fall.