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 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. 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.
An initial attempt to suppress the citywide boycott came in the form of a threat by a local judge. Prompted by Superintendent Frederick J. Reverend St. Church at the time.
Reverend Virgil Wood recalled a similar criticism lodged against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In another legal maneuver, the School Committee attempted to enlist the office of the Attorney General. 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. 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. This is not Birmingham or Jackson. This is Boston. Overall, it had little traction in the Black community. However, there were important exceptions. Lavinia M. 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. Peggy Trotter Dammond moderated and opened the St. Closely following the theme of an education for citizenship and freedom, she informed the more than 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.
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 this is what the essence of non-violence means. All of the 3, 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.
He took care to address the negative media accounts of the negotiations. But, we were not quibbling about a word, we were quibbling about a philosophy.
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. Boston University student Julian Houston not only led the students in the Freedom songs, he also explained their origins. When Alan Gartner shared his experience in the sit-ins in the South, he told the children.
While the discussion on the meaning and practice of non-violence evoked a momentous response, Dr. Of course, many of the youth had not been exposed to African American or African History. Hill explained,. 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.
Repressive Tolerance (full text) - Herbert Marcuse Official Website
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. Because every time he intends to go back they put him back a grade. Without an education, I might as well be dead. 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.
23 Inspiring Pictures From Sit-Ins During The 1960s
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. Predictably, School Committee members unvaryingly declared the Stay Out a failure, reiterating their previous claims of its unlawfulness and violence. It was certainly a victory for the parents and Stay Out leaders. 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.
Here, we had children. At the same time, various mobilizations were organized by different community groups.
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. 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. However, in an ironic twist, Alabama Governor George Wallace unwittingly disrupted the triumph.
What is wrong with tolerance
Hicks may now feel justified in refusing to discuss school conditions with any group of voters, white of black. 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, 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. 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 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. An examination of the second Stay Out and the ongoing Freedom Schools might provide evidence to support such claims. Reverend Breeden and other activists from across the country met in New York to develop a plan for a coordinated school boycott. 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.
After first rejecting the idea, Wilkins was pressured by other civil rights activists to reverse his stand. 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 Stay Out campaign became a harbinger of the heightened militancy that was to unfold among people of African descent in Boston during this period.
Charles E. Carter , a devoted advocate for the preservation of the history of people of African descent. Jacobs, ed. Also, for an account of the activism leading to the legal challenge to school segregation in antebellum Boston Roberts vs. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard. Jeanne F.
For welfare rights activism in Boston, see Audrea F. First published by Dial Press in John F. Washington Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Day also published a shorter version of this paper. Barnett and James A.