The Legacy of School Busing

Decades after 'Brown,' Desegregation Efforts Yield Mixed Results

Black and white students in Boston hold hands on a school bus, 1975

hide captionA black and a white student from Charlestown High School in Boston, Mass., hold hands through the window of a school bus, Sept. 15, 1975, during the second stage of the city's school integration efforts.

Bettmann/CORBIS
Police in riot gear escort black school children bused into white neighborhoods in Boston, 1974

hide captionPolice in riot gear escort black school children bused into white neighborhoods in Boston, September 1974. During the early days of busing in the city, some black students were pelted with stones and racial abuse.

Bettmann/CORBIS

Reaction in Charlotte

In 1969, whites in Charlotte, N.C.. formed the Concerned Parents Association, an all-white group, in response to Judge James McMillan’s order mandating school busing. More than 20,000 parents signed petitions against the judge.

Watch video Watch a 1970 Rally of the Concerned Parents Association*

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Fifty years ago, school desegregation became the law of the land in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. But a decade after that ruling, few students attended integrated schools. As part of an ongoing examination this year of the legacy of the Brown decision, a three-part Morning Edition series looks at the results of school busing orders aimed at making desegregation a reality.

Stories in the Series:

Part 1: Charlotte, N.C., a Qualified Success

Wednesday, April 28, 2004: In 1969, a federal judge ordered the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district to use busing to speed integration — a process that did not end until 2001. Now some residents wonder whether the tumultuous process was worth it: Test scores for black students continue to rise — but school segregation has shot up dramatically. NPR's Phillip Davis reports.

Part 2: Detroit's Racial Divide

Thursday, April 29, 2004: Twenty years after Brown, the Supreme Court issued another landmark decision in a Detroit-based case — Milliken v. Bradley. The 5-4 Milliken ruling put the brakes on busing and made desegregating schools in Detroit and other urban areas nearly impossible. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

Part 3: Boston's White Flight

Friday, April 30, 2004: Thirty years ago, court-ordered busing led to violence on the streets of Boston. Now the city is debating another busing plan. This one would end or alter three decades of moving kids around the city to ensure diversity and allow more students to attend schools in their own neighborhoods. A lack of choice has led many white parents to abandon public schools altogether in favor of private education. NPR's Anthony Brooks reports.

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