Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

March against Racism: Join Fred Hampton Contingent

Stop Boston Racist Attacks
Defend Right of Self-Determination

First Published: The Call, Vol. 3, No. 2, November 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Boston, Mass. – The city where Crispus Attucks, a Black man, was the first to fall in the opening skirmishes of the revolution of 1776, has become the focus of the most brutal and racist attacks on the democratic rights of Black people.

The history now being made is likely to be no less important than the Boston Massacre. The liberal image of Boston has been shattered by the so-called “anti-busing” movement which in reality is nothing but a fascist-led movement aimed directly at smashing working class unity and at the rights of minorities.

This movement, while being led by petty fascists like City Councilwoman Louise Day Hicks and School Committeeman John Kerrigan, is fully supported and backed by the most powerful financial interests and has recently received the open verbal blessing of President Ford himself. It is a movement which has unfortunately swept into its ranks, thousands of misled white workers and small businessmen.

Busing to achieve integration of the schools came to Boston as the result of a protracted struggle involving a broad spectrum of left and liberal forces, both Black and white. Judge Arthur W. Garrity’s court order affirmed that Black children have been denied the right to an equal education and that the Boston School Committee had consciously acted to create a separate and inferior school system for Black children. These facts were of course, well known within the Black community.

Garrity’s order called for implementation of the Racial Imbalance Act, which prohibits “racially unbalanced” schools, that is, schools having over 50 per cent non-white students (a 100 per cent white school is not unbalanced in this definition). To achieve balance in these schools, the Garrity order called for an extensive transfer system involving 18,000 students–about 9,700 Black and 8,300 white.

Following this order and right under the noses of the liberal administration, the organized forces of fascism and reaction began to organize in the white areas of Boston’s Hyde Park and South Boston. Black kids being bused to these communities without any protection, have been injured by rock-throwing mobs, whipped into a frenzy by the media of the ruling class and the fascist agitators. Black bus drivers have also been attacked. Police called in to control the situation have instead served to inflame it. The role of the cops has been mainly to suppress the efforts of the Black community to defend itself and to occupy the community while nothing is done to protect it.

From within the Black community has come the demand for federal protection as mobs of hundreds of racists have surrounded and attacked school buses of small Black children and nightriders have fired guns on Columbia Point housing project.

But while supporting such demands for federal protection, the people are also beginning to realize that in the final analysis, they must rely on themselves. The lack of federal protection has only served to expose the government and especially the liberals, who have refused to send in help. This stand goes back a long way in the Kennedy family to when then Attorney General Robert Kennedy refused to send troops into Selma, Ala. in the early 60’s to protect civil rights marchers.

Without their own armed self-defense committees, the people of Boston’s Black community will be subject to racist attacks at any time. This is the lesson of history.

Playing on the racist fears of the people, the Hicks gang, calling itself ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) has been effective in keeping white kids out of the schools in Southie, Hyde Park and Roxbury High Schools where Black students are being bused, (Roxbury High in the Black community was to receive white students); The openly racist white boycott is also being organized by the KKK which has arrived in town and is openly organizing in the streets of South Boston.

The demonstration in Southie on National Boycott Day, Oct. 4, was the largest in the country. Eight thousand people marched under fascist leadership.

Steeled by the civil rights struggles of the 60’s, the Black community showed great restraint and unity. However, after continued abuse and one particularly brutal attack by the racists, anger exploded in Roxbury. Black youths from English High pelted police with rocks and hit other vehicles as well. The community demanded and was refused protection by Mayor White who said he would not support any more court orders without federal help.

The history leading up to this present chain of events goes back a ways. In response to the demands of the Black community for an end to the hoax of “separate but equal education”, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the Racial Imbalance Act of 1965. The Boston School Committee, led by Hicks and Kerrigan, deliberately ignored the Act. These demagogues began to organize the white communities into an anti-busing front, block by block.

In the minority communities, schools were left to languish without needed repairs and upkeep. Only when white students were to be bused in, were these schools given any of the much needed improvements. New schools were built small and without modern large-scale facilities to accommodate only those students from the surrounding neighborhoods. Thus Boston’s segregated housing patterns guaranteed segregated schools. Because of these practices, the government refused funding and all Boston schools were hurt.

Throughout their political careers, Hicks and Kerrigan have shown that they were the racist representatives of Boston’s real estate interests and the biggest banks who have financed their elections. Their demagogic slogans of “quality education and neighborhood schools” are nothing but false promises aimed at pitting Black against white. The Hicks forces went so far as to proclaim “freedom first, education second” at a recent anti-busing rally, showing clearly that their real concern was never decent education for the youth, but the “freedom” to keep Boston’s schools segregated and the minority students in the lousiest part of that school system.

The liberals like Senator Kennedy and Judge Garrity have shown themselves to be little different than the open fascists. They have continually added fuel to the racist fire by saying that only by rubbing elbows with white kids can Black and other minority kids learn. Their whole integrationist scheme is based upon white supremacist assumptions about education. The liberals have also used integration to build liberal electoral support while using the inflamed anti-busing sentiments to make Black children their political cannon fodder.

It is no accident that all the present furor over busing and “quality education” has been dragged out at this time by liberals and conservatives alike. The depths of the present economic crisis has thrown workers, Black and white, into fierce and militant struggles in defense of their living standards. A strike wave has swept the country, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 40 years.

Historically, whenever such a movement has developed, the ruling class has come to rely on their favorite weapon, white racism, to split the ranks of the working people and get them fighting each other. The real meaning of the anti-busing movement is continued and intensified national oppression of Black people and further robbing them of the right of self-determination.

This understanding is needed to expose the real anti-working class character of this movement, despite its demagogic appeals to the white workers. The real issue for the likes of Kerrigan, Hicks and Kennedy has never been “quality education” or the use of school buses, but has always been the need to break the back of the working class. This remains true today.

Today the pivotal question is whether the rising fascist tide will be able to engulf the whole country or whether the peoples’ forces will awaken to this real danger and be able to lead the working class and its allies to victory. Routing the fascists in Boston is an essential task, both in the immediate sense and also in terms of building the united front against imperialism with revolutionary leadership.

Where does the fascist danger come from? An alliance ranging from the biggest banks and monopolies, the landlords, politicians, and petty bureaucrats to the small shop owners and professional people, constitute the fascist front. Sections of misled working class youth and their angry parents have been brought into the front. Bridging the gap between the politicians and the working class are the trade union bureaucrats, especially in the most backward, racist unions – i.e., the building trades, fireman, etc...

Working and middle class homeowners are victims of rising taxes and rising fuel bills, while real wages are going down. Ordinary city services, like street cleaning and rep airs are being reduced in Mayor White’s austerity program in this bankrupt city. The youth see no future, no jobs, no chance for college and are the victims of abuse by the police. Even patronage opportunities are fewer as Boston’s Brahmins (the traditional ruling class) squeeze out the once-dominant local Irish politicos.

Many people are misled through demogogic appeals to their most narrow and immediate needs, such as lower taxes; better schools; and safety, which the fascists never intend to meet. But in the absense of a well-developed working-class movement with revolutionary leadership, it is the reactionaries who have been speaking to the most urgent needs and demands of a section of the masses.

One leaflet complains about “poor MBTA (Boston’s transit system) service during rush hour at below-zero temperatures.” Another says, “We are denied a new middle school” while another says, “Children here need good medical and dental attention.” It can be no comfort that these are raised cynically and that, in fact, it is the leader: of the fascist front who are responsible for the deterioration of the schools.

“It is not racism that’s the issue” claims a leaflet which then goes on to put forth the most inflammatory racist trash: “Up until recently the town has been largely white...” and “take note that when it was a Jewish-Irish community there was no welfare office.”

On October 7, Jean-Louis Andre Yvon, a Black worker from Haiti, going to pick up his working wife, traveling by a route he has always travelled, was dragged from his car and beaten in front of national television news, by a gang of racists. This and many other incidents are the results of overt appeals to the prejudices, which are deeply ingrained in the masses. Contrary to the mealy-mouthed denials and guarded public statements, the appeal in the local meetings is to white chauvinism.

The ideology of the reactionaries is characteristically American populist. Fascism is not a word they like. They were embarrassed when the National Socialist White People’s Party (nazis) came to town with their swastikas – “How UnAmerican!” The KKK is more acceptable. The walls of South Boston are scribbled over with “Southie is KKK country” and “Nigger Go Home.” The racists also appeal to the people largely on the basis of being against the liberals, trying to cover over the fact that they, along with Kennedy, represent the interests of the big businesses.

The recent events in Boston have served to once again expose the role of the revisionist Communist Party, who has worked in Boston for decades riding on the liberal coat tails of the Kennedys, The abandonment of the struggle for Afro-American self-determination on the grounds that “Black people have already opted for integration” disarmed the working class and the Black masses in their fight against national oppression. The CP began to echo the same integrationist line as the preachers and the liberals. This line robbed the Black liberation struggle of its revolutionary guts and tried to turn it into simply a reform movement under capitalism. At the same time, the work of winning the white workers to support this revolutionary struggle was dropped.

The busing solution as proposed by the liberals and backed by the CP is reformist in the sense that it poses no real solution to the problems of the people. While the rights of Black and other minority students to integrate must be protected, the view that integration under capitalism is the solution will only weaken the real struggle for self-determination. Where national oppression exists, national culture and national unity must also be protected. This is the basis upon which many minority communities have opposed forced busing, especially when it is purposely used to smash minority-oriented schools.

When we uphold the right of self-determination in this situation, it means the most consistent fight against all national oppression, including the guaranteed right to integrate, free from fear of racist violence. But it also means the right to protect and develop national culture.

The CP’s approach has been to play to the same middle class moralism on integration as the Kennedy liberals. They have turned their back on the working class and left them to be preyed upon by the reactionaries. They have also glorified the question of “quality education” under capitalism, rather than showing how the education question is being used to smash the rising working class struggle.

Along with the CPUSA, the Revolutionary Union (RU) has made a thorough exposure of its white chauvinist and opportunist line by putting forth on the front page of its newspaper, the slogan, “People Must Unite to Smash the Boston Busing Plan” in support of the racist anti-busing movement and white boycott. Mistaking militancy for class consciousness and being frustrated at their lack of any real following in the working class, the RU has responded enthusiastically to the roving bands of white youth fighting police and beating up Blacks.

RU has failed to distinguish between the opposition to busing from sections of the minority community and the fascist opposition being organized in South Boston. Their call to “unite” on the basis of this opposition has led them to side objectively with the racists. This difference is as fundamental as the difference between oppressed and oppressor nations, the starting point for a correct stand on the national question.

Events in Boston now provide us with one of those proving grounds of history where words alone can no longer carry any group of revolutionaries. Everyone will he judged by the masses on the basis of where they stand in practice. Opportunists of all stripes will face the consequences of their actions.