1975 Year in Review

Busing Protests

Published: 1975
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
SLP99120850 - 08 DECEMBER 1999 - ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, USA: Mothers rebel against busing September 9, 1971. Mrs. Steve Alsup, carrying sign reading, "Please don't Take My Child To The Slums" parades with other mothers past a bus waiting to transport children from the Froebel School in south St. Louis. Some 300 parents, children and residents picketed in protest of the busing plan by the board of education to take children from Froebel to a less crowded inner city school. rg/Str/FILE UPI

In Boston and Louisville, the issue was busing. The courts had ordered that children be bussed from their own schools to achieve racial balance. In Louisville, Kentucky, that meant busing black children from central city schools to other schools in surrounding Jefferson County.

Sue Connor, leader of the anti-busing demonstrators, explains that her group, while vehemently against busing, does not condone violence...

Sue Connor: "Because we are against forced busing. It does not mean that they should ignore other laws. What I'm simply saying is that we should fight forced busing, and we should not kneel to that law of forced busing; however, that does not mean that we should ignore the responsibility of following through with the justified laws."

Ed Karrens: But violence did occur. The Kentucky National Guard eventually was called in as sporadic incidents of unrest hit the city.

Richard Walker reports...

Richard Walker: "There are cars that are driving up and down the road honking their horns, waving homemade anti-busing signs that say such things as 'Honk if you're against busing', and they're waving their fists; they're waving American flags upside-down. Police are in the area. At least a couple of arrests appear to have been made across from where I'm standing. About 20 feet away from me, there's a Dumpster that has been set on fire. About a block away, there's another Dumpster that was set on fire at the side of the road. Earlier, it was blocking traffic for a little while. This is the area near Southern High School, where two buses were burned in the rioting Friday night."

Ed Karrens: In the end, some 50 persons were injured and 500 arrested. A Federal judge finally called for armed guards to ride on all buses, and he prohibited protest demonstrations at schools and along bus routes.

Crowd: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in our moment of need."


Unknown Speaker: "Don’t let anybody take your picture."

Ed Karrens: It was the Irish Catholic section of Boston, where mothers gathered and prayed in the streets, prayed that somehow, some way, busing of black children into their schools would not take place. But it was a court order that demanded black children be bussed in Boston so that schools would have an equal racial balance.

Louise Day Hicks was one of the leaders of the anti-busing parents. She explained why they were against busing...

Louise Day Hicks: "I'm gravely concerned that at the present time I feel we've lost about 20,000 white children from the Boston public-school system, children who will never return to Boston. And my fear now is that their parents will follow them into the suburban part of the city where their children are attending school, and this is going to mean the demise of the great city of Boston, because without these people in Boston we can never have an integrated city; it will mean an all-black city for Boston."

Ed Karrens: While the implementation of busing in Boston did not have the intense violence of Louisville, the school year was punctuated with isolated acts of unrest, usually involving white and black students.