Friday, April 11, 2008

Busing Crisis - In pictures

Eye opening: Slate's slide show essay detailing the Boston school busing controversy of the 70s. The Soiling of Old Glory, a photograph by Stanley Forman, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977.

It's definitely worth reading the entire piece, but here is an excerpt:

In his recent speech on race, Barack Obama spoke about the legacy of racial hatred and resentment in America. One of the events he probably had in mind was the controversy over busing that erupted in Boston in the mid-1970s. A single photograph epitomized for Americans the meaning and horror of the crisis. On April 5, 1976, at an anti-busing rally at City Hall Plaza, Stanley Forman, a photographer for the Boston Herald-American, captured a teenager as he transformed the American flag into a weapon directed at the body of a black man. It is the ultimate act of desecration, performed in the year of the bicentennial and in the shadows of Boston's Old State House. Titled The Soiling of Old Glory, the photograph appeared in newspapers around the country and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977. The image shattered the illusion that racial segregation and
hatred were strictly a Southern phenomenon. For many, Boston now seemed little
different than Birmingham.

In 2006, when Deval Patrick became the first black governor of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe expressed hope that his inauguration would "finally wash away the shameful stain of that day in 1976." Last June, however, a Supreme Court ruling forbade school districts from assigning students based on their race, and Patrick's administration has been forced to find ways to avoid dismantling desegregation programs throughout Massachusetts. The issue, and the photograph, continue to haunt Boston, and the nation.

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