This article originally appeared in the August 5, 1975 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
“…The media only showed the chaos in Boston. Newspaper reporters and TV cameras couldn’t find parents and kids who were doing their best to make things work.” -Jane Margulis, a Boston parent, in NOTUS, the newsletter of the Citywide Parents’ Advisory Council on busing.
“See my bus?” With childlike delight, Jane Margulis shows off the small silver bus which dangles from a chain around her neck. It’s a symbol that has haunted the city this year, one associated with resistance to the court-ordered desegregation and with violence. But Jane Margulis’ bus has quite a different meaning, even though three years ago, she marched in vehement protest against busing.
Purchased in a jewelry store in South Boston, the anti-busing stronghold, the bus was given to Margulis by a group of black and white parents who worked together to make the best of last year at South Boston High, the most troubled school in the city. While ROAR’s anti-busing demonstrations captured headlines, these 40 people – half of them black and half white – met quietly, discussed the disruptions and racial incidents, and struggled to improve the situation. Above all else, their goal was to keep their kids safe and in school. As one of five parent neighborhood coordinators for the Citywide Educational Coalition, Jane Margulis worked with them, handholding, cheerleading and commiserating.
On those bad days at Southie last year, black parents gathered at the Bayside Mall on the edge of South Boston and anxiously awaited the safe return of their children or at least news of what was happening. And Jane Margulis was usually on the scene, driving back and forth between South Boston High and the Mall with reports on the latest developments. “She performed above and beyond the call of a paycheck,” says one black parent gratefully. Jane has equally high praise for the parents’ council, which continued to strive together through thick and thin: “Both black and white parents couldn’t help being some of the most beautiful people in the world, because of what they had to go through to be there.”
Though it was mid-summer and a blistering night at that, South Boston was having yet another anti-busing demonstration. About 100 people had gathered outside South Boston High School hoping to thwart for the second year in a row the election of an official parents’ racial-ethnic council. (The group that met last school year assembled informally after election efforts failed.) If the very presence of such a crowd were not discouragement enough, a man standing near the school steps was handing out an unsigned, hand-printed flyer.
“Any person who sits on a bi-racial council is not against forced busing,” it read.
“Bi-racial councils do not improve education nor do they decrease any violence or disruption in the schools. Their only purpose is to aid in the implementation [sic] of Garrity’s forced busing edict.
“Do not be misled by the people who are being paid to form bi-racial councils. Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver. The people who are selling out South Boston receive much more.”