‘Truth And Reconciliation Commission’ Weighed For Boston

A policeman ducks for cover as a barrage of stones falls around him during an anti-busing protest in Boston on Friday, Sept. 13, 1974. No one was injured during the brief skirmish involving South Boston residents and Boston police who were keeping the crowds from approaching school buses carrying African American students from newly integrated South Boston high school. (AP Photo/PBR)
A policeman ducks for cover as a barrage of stones falls around him during an anti-busing protest in Boston on Friday, Sept. 13, 1974. No one was injured during the brief skirmish involving South Boston residents and Boston police who were keeping the crowds from approaching school buses carrying African American students from newly integrated South Boston high school. (AP Photo/PBR)

A Jamaica Plain group is planning a “truth and reconciliation commission,” modeled on similar commissions held in South Africa after Apartheid, to examine the impact of Boston’s busing crisis of the 1970s.

People in Boston are still traumatized by the violence that erupted when Boston desegregated its public schools in 1974, says Horace Small, who runs the Union of Minority Neighborhoods. He wants to bring together everyone who was involved in the busing crisis — black and white — to talk.

“To see if damage was done,” he says. “And if damage was done, how do we correct it?”

Small won a $84,000 grant to plan what he calls a “truth and reconciliation commission” this fall. The money is from the Andrus Family Fund, a New York based nonprofit organization that focuses on community reconciliation. The organization funded a similar project in Greensboro, N.C.

Part of a crowd of seven thousand enter Boston Common for pro-busing rally, Dec. 14, 1974. The rally heard speeches by black leaders including the Rev. Ralph Abernathy. (AP)

Small has already started talking to people involved in the busing crisis and says they are eager to share. He says the legacy of busing has left residents of Boston — particularly black residents — with post-traumatic stress disorder, which has stymied the black community from advancing politically and economically.

“We’ve lost three generations of people in our community,” Small says. “We’ve lost them educationally. We’ve lost them socially. We don’t want to lose them anymore.”

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