Scholar Exhibits

Boston’s 1960s Civil Rights Movement: A Look Back

The Boston’s 1960s Civil Rights Movement: A Look Back collection was created in the spirit of the African symbol Sankofa that in the Akan language of Ghana is loosely translated as “Go Back to Fetch It,” meaning to learn from one’s past. It consists of more than 14-hours of GBH radio and television programming created during the 1963-1967 period of the civil rights movement in Boston. The collection provides an opportunity for students and scholars to get a closer look at some of the historic events in Boston’s civil rights history as they actually unfolded, from the perspective of the activists, participants and other stakeholders.

The collection features discussion panels presenting the views of local civil rights leaders, educators and other activists that provide the historical context of the efforts of Boston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African American parents and their allies to desegregate the Boston Public Schools a decade before the court-ordered busing in the 1970s. It also includes broadcasts and interviews with local and national civil rights leaders, community residents, the clergy and public officials related to events such as the March on Roxbury, the NAACP Sit-In at the Boston Public School Headquarters, 15 Beacon Street, the Mothers for Adequate Welfare Sit-In and the Roxbury Uprising. The bulk of the Boston’s 1960s Civil Rights Movement collection is the more than 8-hours of programming that focuses on the 1963 and 1964 Stay-Out for Freedom campaigns, a nonviolent, direct action movement against de facto segregation in the Boston Public Schools led by James Breeden and Noel Day. One of the first school boycotts in the North, it is also the subject of the accompanying essay. It includes radio recordings of interviews with the leaders and children, press conferences and live broadcasts of the day’s activities of the Freedom Schools.

Boston's 1963 Stay Out for Freedom: Black Revolt in the "Deep North"1

The Bastille of Birmingham was a turning point in the Negro resistance movement. Sparks from the flames of Birmingham leaped from ghetto to ghetto, igniting inflammable material that had been gathering for years, welding Negroes into a great black mass of livid indignation. --Lerone Bennett, Jr.

It was the coming out year for Boston Black citizens. All kinds of new organizations emerged and citizens became very vocal. They made their voices heard. It was a year when Boston’s reputation as the cradle of liberty was tarnished. It was a year when we joined hands with our brothers and sisters in the South and recognized our mutual problems. --Ruth Batson


In May 1963, the atrocious acts of brutality perpetrated against the young, peaceful demonstrators during the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)-sponsored Operation Confrontation in Birmingham, Alabama sparked world-wide consternation. The images of the unyielding determination of Black people in Birmingham, in the face of such raw brutality, struck a responsive nerve deep into the communities of people of African descent, and irreversibly deepened the connection among civil rights activists in the North and South. Far beyond mere empathy, the decisive events in the South encouraged activists all across the United States to intensify the ongoing struggles for equality and justice in their own respective local communities. Black Bostonians were no exception. Notwithstanding Boston’s tendency to bask in the glory of its abolitionist history, by 1963 the city had long since failed to demonstrate such elements of noblesse oblige in ensuring first-class citizenship rights for people of African descent.2 Instead, the Cradle of Liberty’s racially-infused system of social, political, cultural and economic domination remained largely inhospitable to the 64,000 people of African descent.

In 1963, however, a significant segment of Black Bostonians was becoming less circumspect about the various forms of oppression and the struggles related to economic upward mobility, decent housing, quality education, and the eradication of police brutality. This newfound attention brought into sharper focus the extent to which Blacks were marginalized in Boston. Inspired by the Birmingham Movement, Black Bostonians in the “Deep North” expanded the contours of their local civil rights activism by using mass-based, nonviolent, direct-action in a Stay Out for Freedom campaign, a Black Revolt against segregation in the Boston Public Schools. Yet, the civil rights activism taking place in Boston and elsewhere in the North during the early 1960s is often obscured due to the near exclusive focus on the Southern movement and to the false notions of the absence of pernicious forms of racial discrimination and hierarchy outside of the South.3

This essay examines the leadership, organization and mobilization of Boston’s 1963 Stay Out for Freedom campaign. It focuses attention on the emergence of the Citizens for Human Rights (CFHR) organization, which under the leadership of Reverend James P. Breeden and Noel Day, organized thousands of Black Bostonians to engage in collective non-violent direct action to protest de facto segregation through the creation of the nation’s first Freedom School in 1963. This essay follows the organizing strategic work of Breeden and Day as they attempted to build a local movement center—similar to Birmingham and other southern cities—that would utilize non-violent, direct action protest to create the social crises necessary to bring about social change in Boston. The Boston Stay Out leaders drew upon some of organizing tactics of Birmingham including boycotts, mass meetings, and moderating the opposition of Black elites. Although Boston was not subjected to the physical violence of Birmingham, in developing a direct action movement, the Stay Out leaders encountered other challenges that were similar to those faced in Birmingham including charges of breaking the law; the improper use of children; agitation by outsiders; and demonstrator initiated violence.

The essay locates the 1963 Stay Out for Freedom campaign within the contours of the Negro Revolt of the period. Civil rights leaders, activists and social critics of the period (1963-1964) framed this activism as a “Negro Revolt” or “Negro Revolution.” In his seminal book, The Negro Mood, Lerone Bennett, Jr. characterized the period as “a cataclysmic shift in the mood of Negroes, a shift mirrored in changing patterns of protest and social contention.”4 The emerging elements of the Negro Revolt included a decisive move toward non-violent direct action and confrontation as the chosen form of protest; the escalation of these techniques by Blacks across the country; the disruption of the “racial self-righteous” of the North; and the growing recognition of a national movement, affirmed by some and revealed to others. Moreover, as Bennett argued, underscoring these dynamics was the rising clarity of the demand for Negro Power. Thus, he maintained, “Any realistic analysis of the Negro rebellion must begin with the Negro’s situation, a situation defined by power or the lack of it.”5 Similarly, in his widely-acclaimed book, The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin also addressed the centrality of the notion of power, arguing “the only thing white people have that black people need, or should want, is power – and no one holds power forever.”6 This narrative of civil rights activism guides the analysis of Boston’s 1963 Stay Out for Freedom campaign.

The essay utilizes archival material from the WGBH Educational Foundation, the Boston Public Library, Northeastern University Libraries Archives and Special Collections Department and the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, as well as local newspapers, interviews and secondary sources to trace the development of the Stay Out campaign. Charlotte Ryan argues, “When mainstream news criteria are applied to a social movement, the tendency is to reduce radical messages to those that the main social institutions can handle.”7 The GBH radio and video archive material that were created during the 1963-1964 civil rights movement in Boston uniquely counterpoise this deficiency. It provides an opportunity for social movement scholars to examine more closely the historic events as they actually unfolded from the perspective of the activists, participants and other stakeholders. This allows for the explication of the agency of the actors by which they can be viewed as subjects, rather than objects of their own history.8

The essay is divided into three major sections. It begins with an overview of the socio-political landscape for Black Bostonians in the early 1960s, which provides a context for understanding the advent of non-violent direct action in Boston. The next section examines the organizational development and challenges of 1963 Stay Out for Freedom campaign and its aftermath. The last section focuses on the local and national context and the legacy of the Stay Out as an initiator of non-violent, direct action in Boston. The essay contributes to the recent scholarship with renewed attention to local activism and expands Boston’s social movement historiography.

Boston 1963: "What have Negroes in Boston to complain about?"

Despite conditions brimming with systemic discrimination and collective affronts against Black Bostonians, prior to 1963, both in Boston and elsewhere throughout the country, there appeared to be a false sense of the “good race relations” among Bostonians. Of course, it was a full decade before the court-ordered busing and the ensuing White ethnic rebellion with its attendant optics of highly charged racism and violence that shocked the nation in the early 1970s.9 Thus, when Ted Poston, an African American reporter at the New York Post requested to go to Boston in early 1963 to report on the civil rights situation, the response from his City Desk editor was: “What have Negroes in Boston to complain about?”10 Such naiveté was also found among Boston’s political elites. Boston Globe reporter, Robert Levey recalls “You would not have been able to tell from reading the Globe in 1962 that the city was on the verge of a very long era of racial and civil rights disruptions that at times would consume the front page of the Globe for days or even weeks on end.’11

Instead, the year of 1963 began with a tale of two cities. In Black Boston, activists focused on economic and educational inequality and charges of both police brutality and police unresponsiveness towards the Black community. The beating and arrest of Roxbury resident and folk singer, Jackie Washington provoked a storm of protest that expanded beyond Boston to its suburbs. The January 5, 1963 strangling murder of 16-year old Daniela Saunders also prompted outrage among Black Bostonians.12 Noting that together, both events “made the community vocal about its feeling of dissatisfaction with many existing police practices,” Roxbury residents established a Citizens’ Council on Police Practices to hear complaints from the community. In a show of dissatisfaction with the Boston Police Department, Roxbury residents jeered Boston Police Commissioner Edmund McNamara at a large community meeting.13 Later, the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights became the first state in the North to hold a hearing “on the subject of Minority Groups and Police Practices.”14 With a focus on economic justice, in February 1963 the Boston Action Group (BAG) organized a boycott against the Continental Baking Company (makers of Wonder Bread); within less than a month the company agreed to BAG’s demands to hire Blacks.15

Meanwhile, the “Other” Boston was holding onto guarded optimism of the prospect that Boston would win the coveted designation as an “All-American City.” The Boston Globe Washington correspondent, reporting on the presentation by Mayor John Collins, Muriel Snowden, Roxbury’s Freedom House and Carl J. Gilbert, Chairman, Gillett Company before the National Municipal League and Look Magazine jury, rather unabashedly proclaimed, “Mayor Collins had the jury on the edge of their seats as he told them of the Boston comeback.”16 Locally, however, opinions on Boston’s “comeback” were largely dependent upon the place from which one viewed and experienced the change. From the perspective of most people of African descent, relatively few Black Bostonians were sharing in the largess of the “New Boston.”17 Thus, they must have found Mayor Collins’s pronouncement that Boston possessed a “splendid spirit of tolerance” or his notion that for Bostonians “Brotherhood is not an empty phrase,” profoundly out of touch with the realities of their lives.18 Collins’s statement not only defied the reality of Boston in 1963, it also showed the extent to which Boston was unprepared for the magnitude of an impending Black Revolt. Indeed, the contradiction between the public face of an “All-American City” and the reality of the barriers to full citizenship for Blacks in Boston was repeatedly highlighted in mounting struggles for human rights among people of African descent during this critical year.

Scholars and social/political observers have longed acknowledged that the ethnic rivalries particular to Boston’s political and social landscape largely thwarted the opportunities for upward mobility for people of African descent.19 The late political scientist, Marguerite Ross Barnett, noted that White ethnic politics “resolves around the distribution or redistribution of goods, services, and values in an agreed upon system according to agreed-upon processes.”20 Generally, people of African descent were not represented in determining Boston’s “agreed-upon processes.” Instead, they were structurally disenfranchised in part due to the city-wide, at-large, rather than district-wide electoral system. As one Boston official openly acknowledged, “Boston is ‘an intensely political city. Each neighborhood holds officials accountable for services, and they in turn are attuned to their districts. To lack representation, as [B]lacks have, is to be denied jobs, funds and a voice in policy.”21 However, during the early 1960s, social critics such as Patrick Moynihan argued that the marginalization of African Americans was largely attributable to disintegration, dysfunction, and pathology within Black families.22 In contrast, in his extensive study of Black Bostonians, historian Stephan Thernstrom found that “the main barriers to black achievement have been not internal but external, the result not of peculiarities in black culture but of peculiarities in white culture.” Thernstrom identifies the latter peculiarities within the context of sustained discrimination against Black Bostonians.23

The disproportionately lower income and higher unemployment rates among Black Bostonians contributed to their inability to secure adequate housing. As one study aptly concluded, “The African American in Boston is subject to inferior schooling, substandard housing, restricted job opportunities and a lifetime of underachievement.”24 The consequences of public and private residential segregation in Boston were extensive, including high rates of disease, pollution and infant mortality; lack of basic municipal services; and lack of adequate recreational and educational facilities.25 The resulting “neighborhood” schools in Boston’s Black communities of Roxbury, North Dorchester and the South End were sites of decades of rampant neglect. The schools that most Black children attended were largely inferior, overcrowded and segregated. Financial, human and intellectual resources provided to schools in the Black neighborhoods were woefully inadequate.26 One critic of the Boston Public School system noted that the historic neglect of schools attended by Black children included: “large numbers of temporary teachers,” “many buildings were substandard,” and “reading achievement and other scores, grew poorer the longer the children were in school.”27 While Black parents and activists leaders argued that the schools were financially, physically, intellectually, and culturally inferior, the Boston School Committee and the Superintendent of Schools blamed the children who they characterized as culturally deprived.28 Thus, despite perceptions to the contrary, there was much for Negroes in Boston to complain about in 1963. Moreover, the notion of changing the reality of powerlessness to a sense of agency became the focus of the activism of various groups within Boston’s evolving local freedom movement.

Local Activism

The year 1963 was a critical point in the decade’s long struggle of the Boston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led by civil right activist Ruth Batson, to achieve quality educational opportunities for Black children in the Boston Public School system. However, the NAACP campaign against de facto segregation had not engendered mass action within the Black community. Indeed, Black Bostonians had not yet developed an “extensive mass base” that according to sociologist Aldon Morris characterized the “local movement centers” of Birmingham, Alabama or Jackson, Mississippi. Morris, shining light on the activities away from the cameras, points out that the success of the Birmingham confrontation in achieving its demands was largely attributable to the Black community’s “internal social organization” that included “all social movement organizations and associated institutions and leaders who are actively engaged in organizing and producing collective action.”29 Thus, Dr. Martin Luther King and SCLC tapped into the organized base of operations developed by Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and numerous Birmingham activists which enabled them to engaged thousands of Black Birmingham men, women and children in an economic boycott of downtown businesses, sit-ins, mass marches, and picketing.30

While Black Bostonians had yet to develop an extensive mass action base, they had an array of capable activists during the early 1960s. Even a cursory view reveals evidence of, what Ross Barnett termed an array of “talented individuals and organized groups concerned with fundamental systemic change” among people of African descent.31 Local affiliates of the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Northern Student Movement (NSM), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) instituted community-based initiatives and conducted various forms of challenges to the racial hierarchy and subordination of people of African descent in Boston. Under the leadership of Sarah Ann Shaw, the NSM initiated its program that combined “educational opportunities” for children and advocacy for “civic responsibilities” among parents, including canvassing and voter registration and engaged many women as “parent advocates and coordinators.”32 As noted above, BAG fought employment discrimination by engaging the community in “selective patronage.” The Boston Chapter of CORE focused its activities on discrimination in employment and housing; in partnership with the NAACP they instituted complaints against the Boston Housing Authority, “charging discrimination in tenant placement and the existence of de facto segregation in public housing projects.”33 The Blue Hill Christian Center, led by the local SCLC’s, Reverend Virgil Wood, became a hub for spiritual nurturance, combined with a new level of militancy and political activism among the youth and their elders.34 However, it was the struggle for quality education that would become the flashpoint and focus of the emerging direct action movement, bringing together the various activist formations that had been “working each in their own little corner.”35

While the education struggle was framed within the context of de facto segregation, the parents were actually protesting sub-standard schools and their long-term effect. Remarkably, in its protracted struggle, the Black community was the lone voice raising issues regarding the lack of quality education in Boston. In fact, according to educator Charles Merrill, Boston had “just not been interested in its public school system.”36 It had long ago lost its impeccable reputation for academic excellence. Indeed, it was failing children of all races and ethnic groups. Mel King observed, “South Boston High School was no better a school than many of the Black schools which had been so neglected.”37 An NAACP study underscored his observation, showing that the ethnic enclaves of Charlestown, East Boston and South Boston had dismal records of high school graduates attending college, with rates of 2.9%, 6.8%, and 6% respectively.38 Overall, the test scores of the children in the Boston Public School system were lower than the national average. While the national reading level norm was 6.0 at the time, for children in Boston’s Black community it was 5.1. However, for children in the non-Black districts, the average was 5.6, still lower than the national average. It was a reflection of a school system that had “compiled an uninterrupted record of negative progress.”39 Despite these deficiencies, there were no organized complaints from white ethnic communities. However, Black parents understood the consequences of inferior education. As Batson succinctly stated, “When we fight about education, we're fighting for our lives. We're fighting for what that education will give us, we're fighting for a job, we're fighting to eat, we're fighting to pay our medical bills; we're fighting for a lot of things. So this is a total fight with us.”40 For Black parents a quality education was essential for any opportunity for upward mobility in an unequal society.41

The Bastille of Birmingham and Boston's Nonviolent Direct-Action

As Lerone Bennett remarked, certainly the Birmingham campaign was “a turning point in the Negro resistance movement.”42 Shortly after the May 2nd events in Birmingham, two community mobilizations were launched in Boston. One was the STOP Day organized by activists Hubie Jones and Mel King. They called for a general boycott of work, shopping and mass transportation on June 26th to protest “discrimination in employment and housing, police brutality, and de facto segregation in the public schools.”43 The other was Boston’s Birmingham Sympathy Rally organized by a small group led by two young activists, Canon James P. Breeden, an Episcopal priest and Noel Day, a social worker and director of the St. Marks Social Center in Roxbury. Both Dartmouth University graduates, they arrived in Boston in 1960 and 1961, respectively. Reverend Breeden had recently been to Birmingham and had met with the young demonstrators.44 He characterized the direct-action movement there as “America's most crucial civil rights battle.” He called upon all citizens of Boston to “show their support for more direct aid of our persecuted Negro citizens in the South."45 The linking the civil rights struggles in the North and South would become a critical feature of the group’s mobilization efforts.

The small group of activists who organized Boston’s Birmingham Sympathy Rally had acquired non-violent, direct action experience in the Southern civil rights campaigns and elsewhere. In 1961 Reverend Breeden was among 15 Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson, Mississippi and charged with “actions likely to cause a riot.” He and his fellow Episcopal clergy were confined in a segregated jail for six days.46 By 1963, the young Margaret “Peggy” Trotter Dammond, a Boston University student, was already a seasoned activist. She received “training in non-violence at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee” and learned organizing skills in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to being arrested and jailed during the sit-in demonstrations on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as a member of SNCC, Dammond was an activist in Albany, Georgia.47 Prior to coming to Boston, Noel Day honed his organizing skills in the campaign to establish the Teacher’s Union at the College of the City of New York (CCNY).48 Both Day and Dammond were also active in the BAG-led Wonder Bread Boycott.49

Undoubtedly they were experienced activists; nonetheless, it is still quite remarkable that in seven short days, under the auspices of their newly-formed Citizens for Human Rights organization (CFHR), this capable small group managed to organize a demonstration of 10,000 people on the Boston Common and collect “enough money to buy a voter registration bus for SCLC.”50 However, the goal of CFHR was not simply to raise money for SCLC; rather, it was to promote “the idea of being politically active” within the Black community of Boston”51 These activists viewed the Black community as a site of potential grassroots power. They wanted to tap that potential by heightening the social consciousness and political involvement of Black Bostonians in order to build a broader non-violent direct action movement that would “confront,” rather than merely, “discuss” the subordination of Blacks in Boston.52 Though admittedly the rally could be considered less a protest than a mass showing of support for the Black people of Birmingham, the organizers viewed its success as an indication of the community’s “readiness to commit to mass action.”{53](#footnote-53) As such, within the next few weeks, they conceived of, what they initially called a “school boycott” and subsequently, a Stay Out for Freedom Day.

Although their plans for the school boycott were not conducted in consultation with the NAACP, it became a significant element in the emerging and highly contentious NAACP-led de facto segregation dispute. The approach of the NAACP had been to largely rely on formal channels, such as meetings with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Superintendent of Schools to air their grievances about the segregated public school system. However, on June 4, 1963 the NAACP took the decisive step of calling for a public hearing before the Boston School Committee to press the case against de facto segregation in the Boston School System. At the same time, the NAACP local leadership met with the CFHR group regarding its planned boycott. Suddenly, with the ensuing school boycott campaign, Bostonians who had shown so much sympathy and support for the heroic Birmingham, Alabama struggle were now confronted with the prospect of non-violent, direct action at home. Now, the NAACP confronted the challenge of expanding the contours of its activism. Batson later reflecting on the CFHR group, recalled, “While they are not openly critical of the NAACP, it is clear that they consider the organization to be too moderate. They perceive their own group to be more forceful in the fight for equal opportunity.”54 Indeed, embracing the CFHR-organized school boycott would require moving beyond non-confrontational forms of protest to the direct action tenets of civil disobedience, with a notable willingness to incur open hostilities and even risk arrests.

Complicating the dilemma was the NAACP’s view of the Citizens for Human Rights group as ‘newcomers’ to Boston.55 This view can be more readily understood within the context of a level of provincialism among the Black leadership rather than the length of time. For example, although Thomas Atkins, Executive Secretary of the Boston NAACP Branch, was newer to Boston, he had been warmly embraced by Branch President, Kenneth Guscott.”56 Basically, the different view of CFHR Co-chairs, Breeden and Day, is related to what activist Hubie Jones recalls as “the ‘accession ritual’ that Black folks had to go through to get into the ranks of leadership” in Boston.57 Clearly, in calling for nonviolent direct action in the form of a school boycott, the CFHR leaders were operating outside the established mores of local Black activism. However, given the success of the CFHR-sponsored Birmingham Sympathy Rally, there was little doubt that they were becoming a significant force in the community. The NAACP and CFHR agreed that the boycott would be held in abeyance pending an assessment of the outcome of the proposed hearing before the School Committee; if the grievances were not addressed properly, the NAACP would support the CFHR Stay Out. Although, CFHR made this agreement, they also, according to Day, began to “quietly and immediately . . . develop the organizational base for a boycott.”58 Nonetheless, the convergence of the boycott concept and the NAACP/School Committee hearing was relatively seamless and ushered in a new phase in the local struggle.

“We, therefore, must fear for our rising offspring”- The June 11th meeting

The Boston School Committee, chaired by Louise Day Hicks, consisted of five-people elected-at-large.59 One Boston historian noted that the non-paying post was seen as “more of a launching pad for higher elective office than as an opportunity to provide a sound education for children of Boston,” including White children.60 Another political observer of the Boston public school system, added, “Every member of this committee is an independent operator, playing to his constituency – internal and external, to the press, perhaps to his own vanity.”61 Black parents and activists were now demanding that the School Committee members responsibly engage the African American community as an important constituency.

By the time of the June 11th Boston School Committee meeting, much in the way of mobilizing the community had been accomplished. Hundreds of residents of Roxbury, North-Dorchester and the South End turned out for the meeting at the 15 Beacon Street, School Committee headquarters. The 150-seat capacity was quickly filled. Mel King, quoting a local newspaper, described the dramatic activities outside in the street, “While the hearing progressed in the chamber of 15 Beacon Street, more than 800 Negroes assembled outside the building and at City Hall, where they sang songs of protest that are being sung in the South.”62 Inside 15 Beacon Street, the NAACP, parents, civic leaders, the clergy, and organized labor, educators, and other organizations provided over five hours of testimony and reports that showed how the Boston Public School system was failing Black children.63 Ruth Batson began her presentation with an historical overview, beginning in the 1950s, that traced the ways in which the local NAACP’s efforts to attain a quality education for Black children had been consistently dismissed, adding that “it [was] too late for pleading, begging, requesting or even reasoning.”64 Batson then presented the NAACP’s carefully constructed arguments and data regarding de facto segregation in the Boston Public Schools that it had spent the last seven months compiling.65

In addition to the data and personal accounts from parents, there was testimony that sharply placed Boston’s defacto segregation issue within the context of Blacks’ sustained struggle for human rights. Noel Day, CFHR Co-Chair, began his remarks by quoting excerpts from a “petition presented by Negroes of Boston asking for equal educational opportunities in the year 1787.”66 He forcefully noted 276 years later, there was little patience in pleading for integrated schools. He cautioned the School Committee that their failure to act would result in “marching in the streets” and “interfering with the due process of the schools in every way possible.”67 Perhaps a surprise to some, the most foreboding statements came from the clergy. Reverend Nathan Wright, rector of St. Cyprians Church, argued that the issue of defacto segregation had been understated and urged the School Committee to be attentive to a “potentially a very explosive situation” warning the “same kind of ferment that has been evident in Birmingham and St. Louis and Baltimore and a good many other places is being generated in our community today.”68 Reverend Wayne W. Horvath argued, “The elected and appointed leadership in Boston has not kept pace with our mounting tensions, which if unchecked, will result in trouble. The ghost of Governor Wallace walks the streets of Boston.”69 While the three did not discuss the pending school boycott, their remarks were certainly a prelude to coming events that would soon relentlessly occupy the days and nights of School Committee members.

Nonetheless, the Boston School Committee was unmoved by such warnings and summarily dismissive of the full spectrum of arguments presented. The School Committee members and the School Superintendent appeared to be woefully unprepared to even enter into a meaningful public policy discourse regarding the notion of de facto segregation, its complexities or implications for Boston. They flatly refused to conduct a demographic census of the Boston Public Schools to consider the NAACP’s claims. This led Ruth Batson to ask, “How in the world are you going to find out the facts about segregation in our schools if we don’t know how many children of a certain race live or go to a certain school?”70 What is more, the Committee members not only underestimated the seriousness of the Black parents’ demands for quality educational opportunities, they seemed to lack both a basic understanding of the social forces of the times and the savoir-faire to engage the issue. Ruth Batson recalled, “They were not only cold and callous but even worse they were uninformed.”71 This lack of aptitude did not go unnoticed in the media. A Boston Globe editorial asked the pointed question: “is it not possible, in view of the current national unrest over wrongs that must be righted, to take a broader view?”72 However, the Boston School Committee chose instead the much narrower view and opted to trivialize the central issue of de facto segregation. Their argument was “segregation is something which is brought about legally.”73 Thus they took the untenable political position of simply rejecting its existence.74

Tarnishing its new “All-American” city designation, this position gained Boston the distinction of being one of the few Northern cities that remained steadfast in its opposition to even acknowledging the existence of de facto segregation. In retrospect Batson recognized that in raising the issue of de facto segregation, the NAACP had actually given the School Committee a “gift” that would endow “their political careers stability for a long time to come.”75 However, Committee members’ intransience also had other important consequences. As Noel Day remarked, “When negotiations failed so dramatically, the NAACP was further radicalized and pushed to direct action.”76 The CFHR clearly viewed the school boycott within a larger context than the local challenge to de facto segregation in the public schools. Thus, rather than a set-back, Breeden and Day saw the failed proceedings as a significant impetus for increased activism, mobilization within the Black community and wider support for the school boycott.

Stay Out for Freedom

In the meantime, Breeden and Day refashioned the idea of a school boycott, transforming it into the notion “Staying Out for Freedom” and introducing the concept of a Freedom School. At the time, it was a novel idea developed out of a relatively straightforward proposition that “if the protest was against school conditions and the quality of education, then the form of protest should be consistent.”77 Their aim was to capture the imagination of a wide range of participants, including parents and their children, educators, local civic leaders, the clergy, college students and other activists to encourage mass action. What became the nation’s first Freedom School was conceived as a viable structure to raise the political consciousness of the Black community to achieve a long-term goal of building that direct action movement.78

The Stay Out organizers had already begun reaching out to junior and high school students at various sites throughout the community. Noel Day recalled that even though only seven students attended the initial meeting, it “was carried out as if there were 700.”79 By the third meeting, a group of one hundred students and parents attended.80 Both Breeden and Day had prior professional involvement with students and their parents that proved quite beneficial in their organizing efforts. As a priest and Canon at St. James Church, Reverend Breeden assisted in the tutorial and after school program and often went to various city schools to meet with teachers on behalf of the children who attended the church’s tutorial and after school programs. He also chaperoned the church-sponsored dances for high school students and led discussion groups with the youth, regularly involving 200-400 youth. Moreover, Reverend Breeden provided chaplain services through the Juvenile Court. Noel Day, a trained social worker and director of St. Mark’s Social Center, had similar youth involvement. In The Negro in Boston, Laura Morris cited the strong cooperation between the ministers of the Episcopal and Congregational churches, and Noel Day in their work with “children from the court, from corner gang groups, housing developments families, youngsters whose families receive public assistance, and newcomers.”81 Breeden and Day’s past collaborative work and their trusted relationships with many of the students and parents were important factors in creating an organizational base for the Stay Out.

Since Breeden and Day had already begun organizing, they were prepared to publicly make their case for mass direct action to the community at-large immediately after the contentious NAACP hearing. The following day the CFHR group began distributing leaflets throughout the community and urging junior and high school youth to “Stay Out for Freedom on June 18th.” The contacts listed on the leaflet included pastors and a member of the NAACP.82 Thus, there was some indication that Breeden and Day had begun to make significant inroads into the established leadership for support of the school boycott that admittedly still may have appeared to be a controversial action at this early juncture. That evening, they held a community meeting at St. Cyprian’s Church to garner support for what they began to call a “Stay Out for Freedom Day,” rather than a school boycott. June 12th, of course, was the same day that Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary, was assassinated outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi. While mourning his death, the Stay Out organizers, in the words of Peggy Dammond, focused their attention on making the “goal for Freedom and Dignity come closer” through building the organizational base for direct action in Boston.83

For those in attendance, the proposed Stay Out appeared to be a viable idea to demonstrate the community’s demands to end segregation in the schools. The lone voice of opposition came from Harry Elam, a respected Black attorney and NAACP member. Elam argued that the proposed mass action was premature. He urged patience arguing that the NAACP’s presentation during the previous evening was “the first time [School] Committee had heard from the Negro community as a whole.” Elam felt it prudent to give the School Committee more time. He argued, “I don’t think in all fairness we could have expected a full answer last night.”84 Not only was Elam’s assessment of the hearing in which he testified, starkly different from his NAACP colleagues Batson, Atkins and Guscott; it was also roundly rejected by those present at the St. Cyprians meeting. A Black teacher challenged Elam’s gradualist approach, urging action and unity “to show as one, that we are against inferior schools.”85 Despite Elam’s arguments, those in attendance voted to endorse the “Stay Out for Freedom” action. This meeting was also significant to the extent that it showed the community that the Stay Out organizers welcomed this type of dialogue as part of a participatory process. Over the next six days, the leadership of Stay Out continued to mobilize the community and develop organizational relationships at the grassroots level.

The CFHR leaders widened their outreach by organizing a series of Freedom Stay Out nightly mass meetings at local churches in the Black community. On average 500 to 700 men, women and children attended the mass meetings during which speakers explained the “relevance of the issues in Boston to the struggle for Freedom in the South and other northern cities.”86 Also, similar to the mass meetings at the Southern sites of civil rights activism, “parents and students were asked to ‘testify’ about their experiences with the schools and relate incidents that demonstrated bigotry or the inferior quality of the educational experience.”87 Black Bostonians also learned and sang Freedom songs of the southern civil rights struggle. In addition, the CFHR organizers used the mass meetings to recruit the youth and their parents, especially those who ‘testified,’ to become part of the planning and decision-making process as members of the ad-hoc “School Stay Out Committee.”88 As in the South, the mass meetings provided an important structure not only to prepare people to participate in mass action, but to also maintain “group unity on the community level.”89 The sense of unity was all the more important in remaining steadfast in the wake of opposition from outside and within the Black community.

“This is Boston, not Birmingham”

The public debate between the Black community and the School Committee began to shift away from a focus on de facto segregation toward the notion of non-violent, direct action. For the power elites, the notion of civil disobedience was quite troubling. Unaccustomed to such assertions of agency by the city’s Black community, they largely viewed it as a revolt. After all, even among some of the more politically aware Bostonians there was a notion that “Boston was not Birmingham.” So, as expected, the very declaration of school boycott mass action engendered quick opposition from Boston officials with charges of breaking the law; the improper use of children, agitation by outsiders and the likelihood of violence. However, for the CFHR group, the ensuing public debate was a critical component of preparing people to participate in, support, or to at least refrain from disparaging, the direct action. As Ryan also highlights, in order make their issues “news”, activists “must mobilize a constituency and create a climate in which a problem is acknowledged.”90 Day and Breeden utilized the media as opportunities to educate the parents and the general public about School Out action. Furthermore, the two leaders consistently connected the Black Bostonians’ struggle for quality education with the larger direct action movement in the South and elsewhere across the country.

An initial attempt to suppress the citywide boycott came in the form of a threat by a local judge. Prompted by Superintendent Frederick J. Gillis, Juvenile Court Judge John J. Connolly placed a legal notice in Boston newspapers warning that without a valid excuse, “non-attendance would be an illegal act” [for] children subject to the jurisdiction and order of the Boston Juvenile Court.”91 He also threatened to jail and/or to fine the parents and others who were “found to have caused, inducted, abetted, encouraged or contributed toward the waywardness or delinquency of a child.”92 The opposition seized upon Connolly’s ruling as a declaration of the illegality of the Stay Out protest. However, while cautioning that Connolly had “parental responsibility” for 500 children under his jurisdiction, Breeden urged the parents of the other nearly 14,000 Black children to assert their right by taking the self-determinative step of deciding what constitutes a “valid excuse” without fear of reprisal. He argued, “the situation here in Boston, the situation throughout the country and our society gives these children a valid excuse for being away from the public school on this day.”93 Essential to the radicalization process, the Stay Out organizers were framing the choice of sending the children to the Freedom Schools as an assertion of the parents’ own agency in resisting any restrictions on their rights as parents.

Closely tied to the legality issue was the notion of “using children.” School Committee members charged Stay Out organizers with urging children to disobey the law.94 School Committee member Thomas Eisenstadt bluntly accused the organizers of “encouraging these children to spit in the face of the law.95 Similarly, a small, but vocal, group of Black Boston elites frequently lodged their concerns about “using children.” Some members of Boston’s Black elites felt strongly enough that they openly opposed their own civil rights groups, civic groups and church leaders. Reverend St. Clair Kirton, a member of the Ministerial Alliance, argued he was opposed to the Stay Out because “taking the children out of school is definitely breaking the law” and “the children should not be used to settle matters that wholly concern adults.” Reverend Kirton was also unapologetic in adding, his “view did not reflect the view of my Bishop.”96 Gladys Holmes, a prominent Roxbury resident, was also outspoken in her condemnation, asserting that she “did not approve of the boycott because it would be bringing children into an area where they don’t belong.”97 Perhaps she was unaware of the support for the Stay Out mass action given by her pastor, Reverend Walter Davis, of Charles Street A.M.E. Church at the time.98 Ruth Batson rejected these claims, convincingly retorting, “From the Boston Tea Party to this present day civil disobedience to underscore moral necessity has been in the mainstream of the American tradition.”99

Reverend Virgil Wood recalled a similar criticism lodged against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. regarding the Children’s Crusade contingent of the Birmingham demonstrations. At the time, King argued that the adult organizers “were inspired with the desire to give to our young a true sense of their own stake in freedom and justice.”100 Explaining the sense of determination among the Birmingham children, Wood recalled, “The children were their own self-initiators of their own freedom. They said, ‘This is our future and we want to help shape it.’"101 This notion of agency, of initiating one’s own freedom, was precisely the focus of the Stay Out organizers. Breeden explained that through the creation of the Freedom Schools, the organizers were providing a structure where the children “will not be moving away from education but will be coming to be educated about the situation that they are speaking out against.”102 Important to their organizing strategy to moderate the opposition of the Black elite, the Stay Out organizers refrained from criticizing the Black elites’ arguments against the mass actions. Instead, Breeden and Day chose to use the Black elites’ criticism as an opportunity to frame a narrative of responsible citizenship.

In another legal maneuver, the School Committee attempted to enlist the office of the Attorney General. School Committee members voted “unanimously to demand that Attorney General Edward Brooke step into the dispute and inform black leaders of the laws concerning school attendance.”103 Hicks argued that the Stay Out was a violation of the law and publicly emphasized that “as the chief enforcement officer of the Commonwealth,” it was necessary for Brooke “to take a stand.”104 Although Brooke was the highest ranking African-American elected official in Massachusetts, there was a perception, not necessarily unfounded, that he did not “wish to become involved in any racial questions in the State.”105 Nonetheless, Hicks expressed her strong conviction that Brooke agreed with the position of the School Committee and that he would “make every effort to stop this boycott.”106 This proved to be a tactical miscalculation. To the dismay of Hicks, Brooke chose to avoid a public confrontation with the Stay Out organizers and the NAACP. Instead, he held a private meeting at the St. Marks Social Center with Black civil rights leaders to discuss the impending Stay Out, which was to occur in two days.

There have been varying accounts of the meeting. Batson recalled that Brooke argued that Stay Out was “unwise and urge[d] a continuation of the talks with the Boston School Committee” and remembered the meeting ending in “divisiveness and rancor.”107 The morning edition of the Boston Globe, without citing any sources, reported, “Atty. General Brooke conferred with Negro leaders Sunday morning and that he expressed the view that ‘the boycott will be averted.’108 Offering quite a different reflection of Brooke’s stance, Thomas Akins, in a GBH radio interview later that same evening, informed the listening audience that Brooke decided the organizers had “reasonable proposals” and “if these proposals were not met then the action planned for Tuesday was a reasonable action.”109 Another Boston Globe article reported that the Attorney General “was convinced that the nothing could stop the boycott.110 In the end, Brooke’s actions revealed an unwillingness to publicly stand with the School Committee against the Black community’s direct action campaign. Thus, he did not “stop the boycott” nor did he issue a formal ruling on regarding its legality. Moreover, he was conveniently “out of town” on the day of the Stay Out.111 In many ways, his actions, or lack thereof, did more to diminish than bolster, the School Committee’s persona of absolute authority.

Failing to establish a legal challenge to the Stay Out boycott, the School Committee resorted to dire predictions of violence infused with thinly-veiled, racialized pronouncements. Hicks informed the press of alleged “threats to white children.”112 She said that recently, “Negro boys stood outside with knives at noon and threatened white students” in front of a Roxbury school. Adding an air of “protection of white womanhood,” she also alleged that “a number of white children, including girls, had been threatened with violence if they refused to join the boycott.”113 Finally, as if to create a sense of urgency; Hick also informed the media that she sent telegrams to the Attorney General and Police Commissioner alerting them to the threats. Brooke’s response must have been disappointing since he immediately dismissed Hick’s allegations and predictions, stating, “This talk of violence comes from alarmists. This is not Birmingham or Jackson. This is Boston.”114 Yet another of Hicks’s suppression tactics proved unsuccessful. Conversely, Brooke’s response was another important victory for the Stay Out organizers and parents. As such, his response also engendered a perception of a further erosion of the School Committee’s seemingly impenetrable position of dominance.

Adding to the failures of the legal and violence arguments were the unsuccessful attempts to discredit the Stay Out leaders by framing them as “outside agitators.” Superintendent Gillis charged the “Stay Out” organizers were “a group from outside of Boston who have either come here for some reason or other or have been sent to create dissention and stir up dissatisfaction.”115 Hicks, of course, remained steadfast in her claim that segregation did not exist in the Boston Public School. Thus, she unambiguously declared that “it’s a national problem and they have brought it to Boston where it does not belong.”116 Ironically, such accusations were hauntingly similar to those used by Southern segregationists when disparaging civil rights activists as Northern troublemakers. Perhaps more importantly, however, the “outside agitator” argument in the North and South reflected the intractable unwillingness of the elite power structure to accept the notion of conscious awareness and actions of an aggrieved people to end their own oppression. Overall, it had little traction in the Black community. However, there were important exceptions.

A small group of prominent Black women entered the public direct-action debate with a more nuanced “outside agitator” argument. Lavinia M. Underwood, President of the Warren Neighborhood Association, issued a press release in opposition to Stay Out. She had harsh words about the Stay Out organizers, stating, “Indeed, it is disgraceful and disgusting when approximately 120 rash people make irresponsible statement or moves on their own, and falsely claim representation of the total Negro community.”117 However, Underwood was also unsparing in her criticism of the “presumptuous officials” who were “willing to recognize this ‘claim of representation’ and giving them “giving free, voluntary publicity.”118 In another major denouncement from the ranks of Boston’s Black elite, Barbara Elam, a well-regarded civic leader, member of the NAACP and wife of Harry Elam, accused the nonviolent direct action proponents of being “troublemakers using our children as pawns in adult problems.”119

Despite this opposition, Freedom Schools were organized in ten locations throughout Boston. In a strong show of resistance to the attempts at suppression, thousands of Black parents defied the Boston School Committee, other local officials and Black middle-class elites and opted to send their children to the Freedom Schools. The Schools provided more than 3000 of Boston’s Black school children their first opportunity to “Stay Out for Freedom” and claim their legitimate rights and duty to participate in non-violent, direct action.

Freedom School: An Education for Citizenship and Freedom

The Freedom Schools reflected the CFHR group’s aim of broadening the concept of education to encompass the notion of “being educated for citizenship and freedom.”120 They ensured a wider audience by allowing GBH to broadcast the proceedings at the St. Mark’s Freedom School. Billed as an all-star faculty, the bi-racial group of speakers included: Royal Bolling, State Representative (Roxbury) and Editor, Boston Sun; Noel Day, Director, St. Mark’s Social Center; Alan Gartner, Chairman, Boston CORE, Dr. Adelaide Hill, Professor, Boston University; Dr. Charles Merrill, Headmaster, Commonwealth School, Massachusetts; Dr. Thomas Pettigrew, Professor, Harvard University; Dr. Sumner Rosen, Simmons College; Bryant Rollins, Reporter, Boston Globe; and Bishop Anson Phelps Stokes, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; and Boston Celtics star, Bill Russell. Over 3,000 children “stayed out for freedom” and attended one of the ten Freedom Schools located throughout Roxbury, Dorchester and the South End.121

Peggy Trotter Dammond moderated and opened the St. Mark’s Freedom School by explaining the planned curriculum to the children. Closely following the theme of an education for citizenship and freedom, she informed the more than 200 junior and high school students who had gathered:

We will learn some Negro History today to remind us of our heritage, where we come from, why, and why we should be proud of our people. We will learn Freedom Songs to remind us of what is going on now and what we’re working for. And we can also learn an attitude and a fact – an attitude of non-violence, I’m sure many of you have heard this term. And today you will get it explained to you and how it pertains to you. You will hear more about that and that fact in America. And that in America, it is a citizen’s responsibility to insist on human rights for everyone, insist firmly, actively, but with love and understanding because all men at not able to love immediately. Many of us have suffered many things, but we must always try to see the other man’s side. And this is what the essence of non-violence means.122

All of the 3,000 school children were exposed to an uniform curriculum that included reports on the negotiations with the Boston School Committee; the singing of Freedom Songs; and lectures by community leaders and college professors on the civil rights struggle across the country and in Boston, nonviolent direct action, civic and educational responsibilities, governmental processes, Negro History, and African History.123

In keeping with the theme of citizen’s responsibility in the achievement of human rights, NAACP Education Committee member Paul Parks reported the details of the NAACP’s negotiations with the Boston School Committee. He emphasized to the children that the NAACP was working on their behalf to persuade a reluctant School Committee to acknowledge that “we have problems as far as Negro students are concerned in the Boston Public Schools.”124 His remarks reflected a sincere respect for the children’s intellect. He took care to address the negative media accounts of the negotiations. Parks warned, “There are many people in our community who have said that your negotiating committee was quibbling about a word – de facto segregation. But, we were not quibbling about a word, we were quibbling about a philosophy.”125 He made it very clear that the students mattered. He also expressed his rejection of the School Committee’s predictions of “bloodshed and violence among Negro children.”126 When he told them, “I have so much confidence in Negro children in this city that I am sure that this will never happen. And I want you to help me make them out of a liar,” there was sustained cheers and applause.127

Equally as important as the details about the negotiations, was the focus on the civil rights activism in the South and the concept of non-violence. Thus, the Freedom Songs made popular in the Southern struggle were an important component of the Freedom School’s activities, just as they were in the earlier Stay Out organizing meetings. Boston University student Julian Houston not only led the students in the Freedom songs, he also explained their origins. Houston spoke of the young people who wrote and sang the songs while going “through sheer hell every day in the Deep South in voter registration projects and direct action projects.”128 Thus, learning and singing Freedom Songs also provided the youth with a visceral experience of connecting their local struggles for civil rights with their counterparts in the South.129 However, teaching the concept of nonviolence proved more challenging. When Alan Gartner shared his experience in the sit-ins in the South, he told the children. “Everything that I had been taught as a child said, “Don’t hit someone first, but if they hit you, you hit them back” to which the children heartily applauded. Gartner cheerfully responded, “I had hoped that you would accept that as a false answer.”130 Later in the day, the students were divided into discussion groups where they had the opportunity to learn more about these concepts. The discussion groups also focused on “problems of discrimination, how they affect us, how students can be involved and active in various aspects of the freedom movement; what they can do to ensure better educational facilities, and better job opportunities.”131 The subject matter reflected the Stay Out organizers’ understanding that the process of encouraging a commitment to social change had to be centered in developing children’s own sense of their own agency.

While the discussion on the meaning and practice of non-violence evoked a momentous response, Dr. Adelaide Hill’s presentation of the historical and ongoing relationship between Africa and Blacks in the United States particularly captured the attention of the students. Of course, many of the youth had not been exposed to African American or African History.132 Hill expressed her own amazement to “hear what young Africans think of Negroes.” The students listened quite attentively as Dr. Hill explained,

They really think the war isn’t over at all and that we are here suffering from lynchings daily and going through all kinds of terrible things. On the other hand, there are other Africans [who] think we’re really very wealthy, we’re really very powerful and if they just wait a little while, that we’ll come over and save them.133

Surely, Hill dispelled many of the stereotypes of Africa and African Americans. It was apparent that the children were quite receptive to learning about their heritage. It is not unfathomable to speculate that in the next several years some of these children would be among the Black youth who demanded Black History in the high schools and universities.

The Freedom School day ended with a call to action. Peggy Trotter Dammond shared a letter that she had received from a young activist that she met during the Albany movement in Southwest Georgia the previous summer. The letter was used as a way to reinforce the youth’s conceptualization of a national non-violent direct action movement and their place within it. It was from 19 year old who still was not “out of his freshman year of high school. . . Because every time he intends to go back they put him back a grade.”134 Reading from the letter,

Dear Peggy, if you never hear from me again; don’t worry because I know what I have to do. Without an education, I might as well be dead. I’m going back to Georgia even though my family was forced to move to Florida because their house was shot into 16 times one night. I’m going back to Georgia and I’m going to set up voter registration schools and I’m going to teach my people. And I’m going to try to teach them not to hate. And it’s going to be hard; but I don’t want them to hate all white people because all white people aren’t the same.135

It was perhaps the first time that Black youngsters in Boston had an opportunity to personally identify with a peer who showed such commitment to the cause of racial justice. Throughout the one-day Freedom School the youth were exposed to a set of new ideas of about citizenship, a sense of their own efficacy and identity, and a new way to view their education. Thus, it was not surprising that by the end of the day they expressed an overwhelmingly positive response to the request for student volunteers to work on St. Mark’s voter registration and educational activities, scheduled for the summer.

The Aftermath

Predictably, School Committee members unvaryingly declared the Stay Out a failure, reiterating their previous claims of its unlawfulness and violence. Eisenstadt declared, “Based on lawlessness, it was destined to fail before it was conceived.” Despite strong evidence to the contrary, Hicks reemphasized the violence argument, speaking of the “mothers who kept their children home because of fear of bodily harm.”136 Superintendent Gillis argued attendance figures showed “the ‘Stay Out’ movement has been a failure.” However, he added the racialized caveat that “many of those who refrained from going to school were white children whose parents kept them home rather than risk trouble.”137 These comments reflected the same level of insularity among the School Committee members evidenced in the June 11th NAACP public hearing.

While the Stay Out did not change the attitudes of School Committee members, it prompted action by Massachusetts Governor Endicott Peabody. After the Governor’s efforts to persuade the School Committee to acknowledge racial imbalance in the public schools had failed; Governor Peabody took a strong stand against the School Committee. He issued a statement, which read in part that “de facto segregation impairs access to adequate education and employment and denies freedom of association as well as other social and economic opportunities that are inherent in a free society.”138 Thus, Governor Peabody conceded to the existence of de facto segregation in a very public way in the aftermath of the Stay Out. It was certainly a victory for the parents and Stay Out leaders. However, the governor’s stance also further exposed the persistent inability of the School Boston Committee to recognize and appropriately respond to changing social forces of the times.

Stay-Out leaders and other activists presented a broader context for assessing the mass action. Noel Day framed the Stay Out campaign successful to the extent it provided a structure for thousands of students and their parents to engage in mass action, putting into practice the idea of being politically active. In his message on the value of the Freedom School, Day emphasized that it gave the children some understanding of the importance of “a large non-violent movement in the North.”139 Moreover, Day highlighted the significance of the African and African History component of the Freedom Schools, asserting, “I believe, the most significant aspect of the Stayout. Here, we had children . . . that had no idea that they were deeply rooted in American History, learning something about themselves; learning some about their ancestors.”140 Ruth Batson stressed the Stay Out’s significance by highlighting the agency of Black parents. She explained that Stay Out “demonstrated to the Boston community that the Negro community is concerned and that we want action.”141 Bill Russell, who addressed the students at the St. Mark’s Freedom School, spoke of its success declaring, “We’re ready; we’re into the fight now. And I think we’ll win.” He emphasized the protest’s implication as a factor in achieving actual democracy in America. He warned that if the demands for desegregation in the Boston Public Schools continued to go unanswered that “it could conceivable destroy democracy here and everywhere.”142 Overall, the Black activists were inspired by the display of a new capacity for mass action in Boston.

Following the Stay Out, the Citizens for Human Rights activists focused on the implementation of the ongoing Freedom Schools. At the same time, various mobilizations were organized by different community groups. On June 26th thousands of demonstrators participated in the NAACP-sponsored Memorial Rally for Medgar Evers on the Boston Common where they launched a voter registration drive for the upcoming School Committee election. The demonstrators were also joined by the 1000 STOP protestors who had marched from Roxbury to the Common.143 During the summer, the NAACP, BAG, NSM and various civil rights groups picketed intermittently outside 15 Beacon Street protesting the School Committee’s refusal to continue negotiations with the NAACP.144 On July 30th the NAACP issued an ultimatum to the Boston School Committee warning that if the School Committee did not resume negotiations that the NAACP, “with the support of every other major civil rights organization,” would begin mass demonstrations at the School Committee Headquarters on August 2nd.145 Ultimately, the School Committee conceded to meet with the NAACP on August 15, 1963 only to summarily end the meeting fifteen minutes later when Ruth Batson mentioned the term “de facto segregation.”146 Many of the activists attended the March on Washington and returned to Boston with renewed commitment to struggle for social change.147

On Thursday, September 5, 1963, the NAACP accelerated its non-violent direct action protests by organizing a sit-In at the School Committee’s headquarters. While the sit-in was not a mass direct action, the protestors, nonetheless, risked arrest. By doing so, they clearly demonstrated the degree to which they had claimed civil disobedience as a viable civil rights tactic since June Stay Out. During its regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, September 6th, the School Committee voted to have the police remove the NAACP Sit-In demonstrators who were still protesting elsewhere in the building. The demonstrators vowed to remain; however, later in the evening all persons were evacuated from the building due to an alleged bomb scare.148 Following the sit-in, the NAACP requested a temporary discontinuance of demonstration at the School Committee headquarters.149 Its primary focus was now electoral politics.

Indeed, many of the city’s activists then turned their attention exclusively to electoral politics. Much of the activists’ energy was channeled into the fall Boston School Committee election. The NAACP and Citizens for Public Schools, an education advocacy group, endorsed Mel King, John Carney, and incumbent, Arthur Gartland in an attempt to unseat the anti-desegregation incumbents, Louise Day Hicks, Thomas Eisenstadt, and Joseph Lee.150 Leading up to the School Committee election, Thomas Atkins chastised the estimated crowd of 10,000 people during the March on Roxbury, one of Boston’s largest rallies. He complained that the activists’ demands of the School Committee to provide quality education for their children would continue to go unanswered because many Black Bostonians did not vote. Pointing to the voter apathy in the Black community, Atkins stated, “In the last election less than 50 percent of the Boston Negroes bothered, cared, took the time to vote.”151 His stern advice was "don't go complaining about anything until you register and vote!” The crowd responded enthusiastically.152 Unfortunately, however, the fervor of the rally did not translate into a win for the progressive slate.

In a stunning rebuke to the Black community, all five School Committee scored a city-wide resounding win, with Hicks capturing seven out of ten votes.153 Therefore, the election was widely viewed as a rejection of the Black community’s assertions of de facto segregation in the Boston Public Schools. Indeed, Hick was quick to declare “The people of Boston have given their answer to the de facto segregation question.”154 For Hicks, the incumbents’ victory was the final word on the matter. However, in an ironic twist, Alabama Governor George Wallace unwittingly disrupted the triumph. Speaking in near-by New Hampshire, Wallace praised the election results as a vindication of segregationists, proclaiming, “Take a look at the Boston School Board election returns if you don’t believe there are many other people who believe about segregation as I do.”155 Wallace’s endorsement of the Boston School Committee bolstered the NAACP’s charge that the re-election of the staunch anti-desegregationists “was done on a racial basis.156 Nonetheless, while acknowledging the racial context of the election defeat for the Black community, the NAACP also attempted to enlarge the argument with a word of caution of the likely ramifications for all the citizens of Boston. The civil rights organization argued, “What most Boston voters may not have realized is that Mrs. Hicks may now feel justified in refusing to discuss school conditions with any group of voters, white of black.”157 Notwithstanding Hicks’s assertions, rather than ending the debate, overall, the 1963 Boston School Committee election only deepened the political divide on the issue of de facto segregation and educational justice.

Certainly, the Black community suffered a setback as a result of the continued recalcitrant behavior of the Boston School Committee, buttressed by their victory in the November 5, 1963 election and the defeat of Mel King. However, the set-back turned out to be short-lived. As the New Year began what apathy existed in the Black community rapidly dissipated. In January, no sooner than his assumption of the chairmanship of the Boston School Committee, William O’Connor provided his analysis the issue of de facto segregation, stating that the problem was not inferior schools, but rather a case of “an inferior type of student.”158 Shortly thereafter, Reverend Breeden announced a second Stay Out for Freedom to take place in February 1964 that would become the next phase in Boston’s evolving direct action movement.159

Reflections on the Legacy of the 1963 Stay Out for Freedom Campaign

The legacy of the first Stay Out for Freedom Campaign should be viewed within the context of local and national factors. The Citizens for Human Rights led the way in organizing thousands of Black people to engage in mass action in defiance of the influence and power of the Boston School Committee and a segment of the Black elite. The CFHR’s direct action campaign added an important new dimension to the local struggle for civil rights as evidenced by the decisive move toward civil disobedience in a relatively short time. The aim of the Citizens for Human Rights group was to build a non-violent direct action movement in Boston and the Stay Out for Freedom was an important step. However, the Stay Out leadership understood that it was necessarily a long-term endeavor and they directed their efforts on methods to radicalize the youth to become agents for social change. In addition to expanded Freedom Schools, organizers sought to engage the youth in political work such as voter registration and education. This work is more difficult to measure and is certainly outside the parameters of this essay. However, some school officials complained “the kids came back with chips on their shoulders and started quoting all the rules and regulations about what we could and could not do.”160 At least anecdotally it suggests that the Freedom School experience raised the consciousness of some of the youth as intended. An examination of the second Stay Out and the ongoing Freedom Schools might provide evidence to support such claims.

Nonetheless, Boston’s Stay Out/School Boycott concept as a viable direct action technique in the struggles to end de facto segregation in public schools in communities outside the South quickly became a major civil rights phenomenon. Reverend Breeden and other activists from across the country met in New York to develop a plan for a coordinated school boycott. The group decided on a National School Boycott in February 1964, in which boycotts were planned in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chester Pennsylvania, Cambridge and Baltimore, Maryland, Milwaukee and Boston to demand the desegregation of public schools.161 Following the example of Boston, most of the protest groups also established Freedom Schools.162 In fact, Boston’s Freedom Schools would be replicated and innovated elsewhere in the country during this period, including the Mississippi Summer project.

The meteoric rise of the School Boycott concept was not unanimously sanctioned by the civil rights establishment. A few civil rights leaders equivocated or opposed the idea. Although Roy Wilkins did not hesitate to give the support of the National NAACP to Boston’s June 18, 1963 Stay Out action,163 he was less inclined to give a blanket endorsement of the concept of school boycotts as a civil rights tactic. After first rejecting the idea, Wilkins was pressured by other civil rights activists to reverse his stand. He then reluctantly gave a conditional approval, stating that in general, “children to go to school while adults argue the issue, but where parents decided upon a boycott, we would aid.”164 On the other hand, Martin Luther King, Jr. understood its force as a significant expansion of the contours of the movement and “heartily endorsed the concept” and the local actions. The concept corresponded well with the strategy of increased non-violent direct action and its attendant new slogan, “More In ’64.”165 To King, the school boycotts played an important role in exposing the myth of racial discrimination and oppression as “inherently sectional problems” limited to the South. King argued, “School boycotts have punctured the thin veneer of the North’s racial self-righteousness.”166 This task was essential in order to shape the narrative of a national civil rights movement undergirding the “Negro Revolution” or “Negro Revolt.”

Boston activists, in the Deep North, were making major strides in effectively exposing the contradiction and expanding the narrative. For far too long, the North had exorcised itself from its own systems of racial discrimination and hierarchy; often while providing moral and financial support for the civil rights struggle in the South. Moreover, the 1963 Stay Out campaign became a harbinger of the heightened militancy that was to unfold among people of African descent in Boston during this period. In the years to come, many of the youth of the “Stay Out” generation, including the author, took their place in the struggle for human rights and social change. Thus, the Stay Out campaign also stood as an exemplar in the wave of “Negro Power” that sought to move an unwilling nation into a new phase of living up to its American Creed.


1The author would like to thank Allison Pekel and WGBH Educational Foundation for the opportunity to participate in this project as a Mellon Scholar. Sincere thanks is also extended to Aaron Schmidt, Boston Public Library Print Department; Michelle Romero, Snell Library Archives and Special Collections Department, Northeastern University; the Schlesinger Library; Arthur Pollock, Boston Herald; and Dr. Charles E. Jones, Professor of Africana Studies, University of Cincinnati. This essay on Boston’s Civil Rights movement is dedicated to David G. Carter (1954-2013), a devoted advocate for the preservation of the history of people of African descent.

2See Donald M. Jacobs, ed., Courage and Courage and Conscience: Black and White Abolitionists in Boston (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993). Also, for an account of the activism leading to the legal challenge to school segregation in antebellum Boston (Roberts vs. Boston) and the first boycott of the Boston Public Schools see, Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick, Sarah’s Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004).

3An exception is the important scholarship on the activism in local communities throughout the United States by Jeanne F. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard. For Theoharis’s work specific to the civil rights movement in Boston see Jeanne Theoharis, “They Told Us Our Kids Were Stupid” Ruth Batson and the Educational Movement in Boston,” in Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements in America, eds. Jeanne F. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 17-44; Jeanne F. Theoharis, “I’d Rather Go to School in the South”: How Boston’s School Desegregation Complicates the Civil Rights Paradigm in Jeanne F. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard, Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside the South, 1940-1980 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 125-151; Jeanne F. Theoharis, “We saved the City:” Black Struggles for Educational Equality in Boston 1960-1976, Radical History Review, 81, (Fall 2001): 61-93. Also see Mel King, Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development, (Boston: South End Press, 1981). [hereafter, Chain of Change]. For welfare rights activism in Boston, see Audrea F. Dunham, “ ‘Fight for a Change!’ MAW (Mothers for Adequate Welfare)and the Evolution of the Welfare Rights Movement in Boston,” International Journal of Africana Studies, 15, (Fall/Winter 2009):1-63.

4Lerone Bennett, Jr., The Negro Mood (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1964), 8.


6James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (New York: Vintage International, 1993). First published by Dial Press in 1963.

7Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time Activism: Media Strategies for Grassroots Organizing (Boston: South End Press, 1991), 51.

8Molefi Kete Asante, Afrocentricity (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, Inc. 1991), 59-60.

9See King, Chain of Change, 155-168.

10Ted Poston, Panelist, “Civil Rights Panel with Louis Lyons,” GBH, June 26, 1963, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

11Robert L. Levey, Panelist, The Struggle for Civil Rights in Boston. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA March 29, 1998). [Hereafter, The Struggle for Civil Rights in Boston 1998]

12“Girl Strangling Stirs Outcry by 500 In Roxbury,” Boston Globe, January 7, 1963.

13“1000 in Roxbury Jeer McNamara,” Boston Globe, January 8, 1963.

14“Citizens’ Council on Police Practices,” Phyllis M. Ryan Collection (M94), University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, Box 1, Folder: 10. [Hereafter, PMR].

15Noel Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts.” Distributed by Student for a Democratic Society, 119 5th Avenue, New York, New York, and its Economic Research and Action Project, 1100 E. Washington Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Helen Garvy Papers, International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam - the Netherlands, 6-7. Day also published a shorter version of this paper. See Noel Day, “The Freedom Movement in Boston,” Equity & Excellence in Education, Volume 2, Issue 6 December 1964, pages 11 – 23; Mel King, Chain of Change, 48-51; Robert Levey, “Despite Little Cash, BAG Wields an Effective Economic Boycott,” Boston Globe, December 11, 1963, 28.

16Wilfred C. Rodgers, “New Boston Wows Them,” Boston Globe, November 17, 1962.

17King, Chain of Change, 18-22.

18John F. Collins, “And Still the Hub,” Boston Globe, April 21, 1963.

19Peter Schrag, Village School Downtown: Politics and Education – A Boston Report (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), 66. [Hereafter, Village School Downtown]; Stephan Thernstrom, The Other Bostonians: Poverty and Progress in the American Metropolis, 1880-1970 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 218. [Hereafter, The Other Bostonians]. 8; Jack Tager, Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence. (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 2001), 176.

20Marguerite Ross Barnett, “A Theoretical Perspective On American Racial Public Policy,” in Margaret R. Barnett and James A. Hefner, ed. Public policy for the Black community: Strategies & perspective. (New York: Alfred Publishing Co., Inc., 1976), p. 13. [Hereafter, “A Theoretical Perspective.”

21Daniel Golden and Donald Lowery, “Boston and the Postwar Racial Strain/Blacks and Whites in Boston: 1945-1982,” Boston Globe, September 27, 1982, p.1.

22“The Negro Family: “The Case For National Action.” Washington, D.C.: Office of Policy Planning and Research, United States Department of Labor, March 1965), more often referred to as the [Patrick] Moynihan Report.

23Thernstrom, The Other Bostonians, 218.

24“The Voice of the Ghetto: Report on Two Boston Neighborhood Meetings.” Massachusetts State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 3. Boston Public Library, State and Local Government Documents, Catalogue Number: RLS/E185.86.U5. [Hereafter, “Voice of the Ghetto Report”]

25“Discrimination in Housing in the Boston Metropolitan Area: Report of the Massachusetts Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights” December, 1963; “Voice of the Ghetto Report,” 34-42.

26Theoharis, “They Told Us Our Kids Were Stupid,” 24-25.

27Schrag, Village School Downtown, 39-40.

28Frederick J. Gillis, Annual Report of the Superintendent, 1962-1963, School Document No. 14—1963, Boston Public Schools., Downloaded [9/16/2013].

29Aldon D. Morris, “Birmingham Confrontation Reconsidered: An Analysis of the Dynamics and Tactics of Mobilization,” Sociological Review 58, no. 5 (1993):634.


31Ross Barnett, “A Theoretical Perspective,” 23.

32Later, they became activists in educational initiatives such as the school boycotts and the creation of Operation Exodus; Sarah Ann Shaw personal papers. Copy in author=s possession; Sarah Ann Shaw, telephone interview with the author, February 26, 2007.

33See Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 7.

34Telephone interview with Rev. Virgil A. Wood by the author, April 14, 2007.

35Interview with Tom Atkins, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 8, 1988, for Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 to 1985. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection. [].

36Merrill, Charles, “The Negro Child in Boston: Some Reflections,” Martha M. Eliot Papers (MC 229), Schlesinger Library, Box 70, Folder 951. [Hereafter, MME]

37King, Chain of Change, 162.

38Paul Parks, “NAACP: A Report to Boston Parents, January, 1964”), Ruth Batson, The Black Educational Movement in Boston: A Sequence of Historical Events (Boston: Northeastern University School of Education), [Hereafter, Black Educational Movement in Boston], 132a.

39Schrag, Village School Downtown, 113.

40Eyes on The Prize Transcript, Public Broadcasting Company. Downloaded: May 7, 2009

41“Hearing to NAACP, June 11, 1963,” The School Committee of the City of Boston, Office of the Secretary, City of Boston Archives, Boston Massachusetts, p. 4. [Hereafter, Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting].

42Bennett, The Negro Mood, 6.

43“STOP,” John F. Collins Collection,” Boston Public Library, Box 195, Folder 8 [hereafter, Collins Collection]. Unlike the Stay Out organizer, STOP Day organizers did not create a specific organizational structure. See retrospective accounts of STOP in King, Chain of Change, 51-53; Hubie Jones, Panelist, Power and Protest: The Civil Rights Movement in Boston, 1960-1968, November 4, 2006, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts [hereafter, Power and Protest Conference 2006]. 44“Reaction to Boycott Report I,” June 18, 1963, Ted Mascott, Producer, GBH, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.; James Breeden Recorded by Bill Holiday, Internet Archives Library, Community Audio, Downloaded: 9/16/2013.

45“Rights Rally Sunday on Common Sunday,” Boston Globe, May 9, 1963, 44.

46Michael Gillis, “Rider on the Storm,” Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Sept-Oct 2013:32, 34.

47Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, "It Was Simply in My Blood" in Hands On The Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts By Women in SNCC. Urbana (University of Illinois Press, 2010), 163-171. Also see her introduction on the SNCC Veterans website. []. Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely is the great great-grandaughter of William and Ellen Craft who escaped from enslavement. Preacely is also the grand niece of William Monroe Trotter. See African American Families of Monticello:

48Noel Day, “Biographical Material,” PMR, Box 2, Folder 40.

49Julian Houston, Panelist, Power and Protest Conference 2006.

50As is often the case, the organizers were not highlighted at the rally or in the media. Rather, featured prominently in a photo in the Boston Globe were James Farmer, National Secretary of CORE; Rev. James Bevel, SCLC; Kenneth Guscott, President of the Boston Branch of the NAACP; Massachusetts Governor, Endicott Peabody and Attorney General, Edward Brooke; and K. C. Jones and Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. See Robert Levey, “Hub Rally Backs Alabama Negroes,” Boston Globe, May 13, 1963, 1.

51“Stay Out For Freedom- Press Conference II,” June 12, 1964, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

52Author interview with James Breeden, September 14, 2012.

53Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 8.

54Batson, Black Educational Movement in Boston, 87.


56“March on Roxbury,” GBH, September 22, 1963, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

57Hubie Jones, Power and Protest Conference 2006.

58Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 8.

59The other School Committee members at the time were Thomas Eisenstadt, Arthur Gartland, Joseph Lee and William O’Connor.

60Thomas O’Connor, Building a New Boston: Politics and urban renewal 1950-1970 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1993), 64. [Hereafter, Building a New Boston].

61Schrag, Village School Downtown, p. 66.

62King, Chain of Change, 33, citing a local newspaper.

63Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting.

64Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, p. 4.

65Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, p. 3-17; “Boycott Report,” GBH, June 17, 1963, Ted Mascott, Producer, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

66Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, p. 60. The header quote, “We, therefore, must fear for our rising offspring” is taken from the petition. The original and historic petition is located at the Massachusetts Historical Society. A complete transcript of the petition, with the title “Negroes Ask for Equal Education,” is included in Herbert Aptheker, A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States: From Colonial Times Through the Civil War, (New York: Citadel Press, 1990), 19-20.

67Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, 60.

68Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, p. 33.

69Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, 43-44.

70Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, p. 105.

71Ruth Batson, panelist, The Struggle for Civil Rights in Boston, 1998.

72“Boston’s Problem, Too,” Boston Globe, June 14, 1963, 22. At the time, for example, it appeared that New York was taking the broader view. There, responding to protesting parents and civil rights leadership the State Board of Education had at least conceded that de facto segregation existed and took responsibility for its rectification. The conflict there was centered on “how” desegregation of the schools would be implemented.

73Minutes of NAACP June 11th Meeting, p. 116.

74Eleven years later in 1974, U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity concluded that the Boston School Committee had in fact “knowingly carried out a systematic program of segregation affecting all of city’s students, teachers and school facilities and had intentionally brought about and maintained a dual school system.” See Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. The preceding quote located in The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Movement, ed. Clayborne Carson et al. (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 611.

75Interview with Ruth Batson, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 8, 1988, for Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 to 1985. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

76Day, “The Freedom Movement in Boston,” 22.

77Ibid, 14.

78Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 8-9.

79Ibid, 8.


81Laura B. Morris, “The Negro and the Church, Rheable M. Edwards and Laura B. Morris, The Negro in Boston (Boston: Action for Boston Community Development, 1961), 80.

82“Stay Out for Freedom.” PMR, Box 3, Folder 15.

83Peggy Dammond, memo dated, June 12, 1963, “Stay Out for Freedom Day in the Boston Public Schools, Letter from Peggy Dammond to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference [and] Congress for Racial Equality. SCLC Papers, June-Jul 1963.

84Hub School Boycott Planned by Negroes,” Boston Globe, June 13, 1963, 12.


86Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 8-9.

87Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 8-9; “What About the Freedom Stay Out?” Collins Collection, Box 195, Folder 8.

88Ibid, 9.

89Bernice Johnson Reagon, “Let the Church Sing "Freedom," Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 7 (1987): 107.

90Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time Activism: Media Strategies for Grassroots Organizing (Boston: South End Press, 1991), 32.

91“Legal Notices, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk SS, Boston Juvenile Court,” Boston Globe, 19.

92Ibid.; “Judge Tells 500 to Avoid Boycott,” Boston Globe, June 15, 1963, 1, 2.

93"Boycott Report”

94Pre-Boycott, Stay Out For Freedom,” GBH, June 14, 1963, Ted Mascott, Producer, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA. Hereafter, “Pre-Boycott Report.”

95“To Secure These Rights: A Documented History of the Negro ‘Freedom Movement,’ ” produced by Ted Mascott, GBH, Boston, Massachusetts. Transcript located in Freedom House Papers (M16), Northeastern University Snelling Library, Archives and Special Collections, Box 39, Folder 1357.

96“Boycott Report”



99“School Boycott on Despite Plea,” Boston Globe, June 14, 1963, 9.

100Martin Luther King, Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Clayborne Carson (Ed). (New York: Warner Books, 2001), 206.

101Rev. Virgil Wood, PBS, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Recorded at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, April 26, 2013. []

102“Boycott Report”

103Jon Brian Sheehan, The Boston School Integration Dispute: Social Change and Legal Maneuvers. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984):64. Sheehan refers to a newspaper account wherein “Hick stated that three attempts to deliver the Committee’s vote to him had failed and he was reported ‘out of town’ (Herald 6/18/63: 6).

104“Pre-Boycott Report.”



107Batson, Black Educational Movement in Boston, 89.

108Jeffrey A. Osoff, “Boston Negroes Push Plan for Boycott, Talks Falter,” Boston Globe, June 17, 1963, 1.

109“Boycott Report”; William E. Nelson, Jr. Black Atlantic Politics: Dilemmas of Political Empowerment in Boston and Liverpool, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000): 111. [Hereafter, Black Atlantic Politics]; Hubie Jones, Panelist, Power and Protest Conference 2006.

110Robert Healy, “Peabody, Gartland. . . .They Almost Broke Impasse,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1963, 1.

111"Brooke ‘Out of State,’ Office Sees Compromise,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1963, 10.

112"Judge Tells 500 to Avoid Boycott,” Boston Globe, June 15, 1963, 1, 2.


114John McGinn, “Mothers’ Revolt Perils Boycott of Hub Schools,” Record American, June 17, 1963.

115“Pre-Boycott Report.”


117See “Boycott Unthinkable So States the Thinking Negro Parent.” Press Release: Mrs. Lavinia M. Underwood, President, Warren Neighborhood Association, Collins Collection,” Box 195, Folder 7.

118Ibid; Seymour R. Linscott, “Negroes to Go Ahead with Stay Out,” Boston Globe, June 18, 1963, 1.

119John A. Fenton, “Boston’s Negroes Firm on ‘Stay Out,’ New York Times, June 18, 1963, 20.

120“Boycott Report,” June 17, 1963, Ted Mascott, Producer, GBH, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

121Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 14.

122“Reaction to Boycott Report II,” June 18, 1963, Ted Mascott, Producer, GBH, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

123“Boycott Report”

124“Reaction to Boycott Report II”







131“Boycott Report”

132“Reaction to Boycott Report II”




136“It Was a Victory... ...It Was a Failure,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1963, p. 11.


138"Governor’s Statement,” Boston Globe, June 18, 1963.

139“It Was a Victory... ...It Was a Failure”

140Noel Day, Panelist, Civil Rights Panel with Louis Lyons, GBH, June 26, 1963, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA.

141“It Was a Victory... ...It Was a Failure”

142“Reaction to Boycott Report I”

143“15,000 To Mourn Evers Here,” Boston Globe, June 26, 1963; King, Chain of Change, 53; Nelson, Black Atlantic Politics, 111; Hubie Jones, Panelist, Power and Protest.

144Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 10.

145“Text of a Statement Read by Thomas Atkins, Executive Secretary of the Boston Branch NAACP, Concerning Direct Action to be Taken Against the Boston, School Committee,” Collins Collection, Box 195, Folder, 8.

146Batson, Black Educational Movement in Boston, 104-105.

147“1200 Leave From Boston,” Boston Globe, August 28, 1963; “Camera and Pen Capture the Scene, Boston Globe, August 29, 1963; Edward McGrath, “Hub NAACP Seeks End of School Row,” Boston Globe, August 30, 1963.

148“Boston School Committee Report on Sit-Ins,” GBH, September 6, 1963, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston.

149Day, “The Freedom Movement in Massachusetts,” 10; Ian Forman, “School Bd. Given Rest By NAACP,” Boston Globe, September 11, 1963, p. 1.

150King, Chain of Change, 36.

151“March on Roxbury”


153“School Vote,” Boston Globe, November 6, 1963, 1.

154“Policies Endorsed Mrs. Hicks States,” Boston Globe, November 6, 1963, 10.

155“Wallace Lauds Hub School Vote,” Boston Globe, November 6, 1963, p. 12.

156“School Vote,” Boston Globe, November 6, 1963, 11.

157“School Vote,” Boston Globe, November 6, 1963, 11.

158Robert L. Levey, “School Board Head Proposes 8 Changes” Boston Globe, January 7, 1964.

159“School Boycott Due,” Boston Globe, January 15, 1964, p. 1; Day, Freedom Movement in Massachusetts, 11-12.

160Schrag, Village School Downtown, 96.

161Clarence Taylor, Knocking at Our Own: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools Door, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books), 129-131); Day, Freedom Movement in Massachusetts, 11-12; “Plan Nationwide Schools Boycott, Chicago Daily Defender, January 6, 1964: 1; “School Protests in Ten Other Cities,” Freedom’s Journal (n.d.) circa 1964, PMR, Box 4, Folder 26; “School Boycotts are Set in 5 Cities,” New York Times, January 26, 1964, 39.

162See, Leonard Nathaniel Moore, “The School Desegregation Crisis of Cleveland, Ohio, 1963-1964: The Catalyst for Black Political Power in a Northern City,” Journal of Urban History 28, no.2, 2002, 135-157; Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC) Records, 1964-1966 Records, Archives / Milwaukee Area Research Center. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries Box 1, Folder 5, Other Projects and Miscellany, 1964-1966; “School Boycott Success: 224,770 Pupils Absent,” Chicago Daily Defender, A1.

163“Boycott Report”

164Fred Powledge, “School Boycott Divides Negroes,” New York Times, January 8, 1964, 1; Fred M. Hechinger, “Education Cities in Crisis: The Northern Integration Issue,” New York Times, January 12, 1964, E11; “Roy Wilkins Recants, Backs School Boycott,” Chicago Defender, January 11, 1964, 1; Martin Arnold, “Urban League Refuses to Back City School Boycott Tomorrow,” New York Times, March 15, 1.

165Don McKee, “More in ’64, Civil Rights Slogan,” The Saratogian, January 15, 1964, p. 4; Reiman Morin, “ ‘Negro Revolution’ Leaders Calling for ‘More in ’64,’ ” Meridian Journal, February 21, 1964, 1; “Selective Buying Campaign,” Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, Inc., Alicia Kaplow Papers (MS507), Wisconsin Historical Society, Friends of SNCC - General, 1964-1967, Box 1, Folder 4. Beginning in February 1964, the “More In ’64” slogan was displayed in the SCLC Newsletters.

166Martin Luther King, Jr., “The School Boycott Concept,” New York Amsterdam News, April 11, 1964, 10.