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Boston College collection of anti-racism efforts during the Boston busing crisis

Collection MS-2020-064: Boston College collection of anti-racism efforts during the Boston busing crisis


  • Creation: 1974-1975

Content Description

Collection of materials documenting activist organizations anti-racism efforts in response to violent protests against the 1974 legal ruling to desegregate Boston public schools through busing, known as the Boston busing crisis. Includes materials from the Emergency Committee for a National Mobilization Against Race, National Student Coalition Against Racism, and the Student Committee Against Racism (SCAR). The collection is primarily ephemera and includes flyers, press releases, and promotional materials related to organized marches and events. Also included are activist publications about the Boston busing crisis.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Historical Note

The Boston busing crisis refers to the period of violent protests, riots, and racial unrest that was widespread following the 1974 Court ruling to desegregate Boston Public Schools through a system of busing. Historically, racial segregation in the Boston Public School system was an unofficial policy reinforced by the Boston School Committee’s decisions on districting and the existing residential segregation of the city. As a result, schools with mainly Black students were understaffed and underfunded, receiving only two thirds of the amount of funding that schools with white students received. In 1965 Massachusetts passed the Racial Imbalance Act which outlawed segregation in public schools and defined a segregated school as one with a student body comprised of more than fifty percent of a specific racial group. Although forty-four Boston public schools under these criteria were segregated, the Boston School Committee refused to develop any plans to integrate. In response Black parents began to organize, demanding access to better schools through protests, boycotts, and other actions. Ultimately, with the help of the NAACP, a lawsuit, Morgan v. Hennigan, was filed against the committee for their failure to integrate after the Racial Imbalance Act.

In June of 1974 the court ruled that the Committee’s actions to preserve segregation were unconstitutional. To facilitate desegregation, a busing system would send Black students to white schools and white students to Black schools. White outrage erupted in Boston in the form of violent protest, riots, and demonstrations. Critics of busing at the time cited logistical and socioeconomic arguments against the plan, but it is now widely acknowledged that most of the outrage stemmed from racism. Violent anti-busing protests continued throughout the summer and became especially dangerous for bused students attending school that fall. Dubbed the “busing crisis” it became a symbol of the national resistance to busing as a solution to segregation and highlighted the interracial tensions in Boston.

The Emergency Committee for a National Mobilization Against Racism was formed in response to the violence and racism stemming from the busing crisis. The group organized demonstrations and marches to combat the racism exposed by the busing crisis. Other activist groups including Student Coalition Against Racism (SCAR), the National Student Coalition Against Racism, and the Student Committee Against Racism also responded to the busing crisis by organizing marches and events to support desegregation, encourage democracy, and fight racism.


"Desegregation Busing," Boston Research Center, Accessed on July 6, 2021.

Tager, Jack. Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2001.


2 Linear Feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



Collection of materials related to anti-racism activist organizations in response to the 1974 legal ruling designed to desegregate Boston public schools through busing.


The collection has two series: I. March and event ephemera, and II. Publications.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from D. Anthem, Bookseller in September 2020.

Related Materials

Citywide Coordinating Council Records, MS.1990.031, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Garrity, W. Arthur, Jr. Papers on the Boston Schools Desegregation Case, 1972-1997. University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Education Materials, MS.1990.029, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

School Department - Desegregation-era Records Collection, 1952 - 2004; bulk: 1975 - 2000, City of Boston, Office of the City Clerk, Archives and Records.

Boston College Collection of Anti-racism Efforts During the Boston Busing Crisis
Alison Harris
July 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States