The past is always prologue in Boston: Three councilors refuse to vote to recognize Brown v. Board of Education

David Bernstein takes a look at a resolution before the City Council today to recognize the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's desegregation ruling. Ten councilors voted for it while councilors Bill Linehan, Steve Murphy and Sal LaMattina voted "present."

LaMattina and Murphy talked to Bernstein about why he voted that way; Linehan and Yancey, who sponsored the measure, didn't return his calls.

UPDATE: Linehan did talk to the Globe, said Yancey filed it at the last moment and he didn't really have a chance to read it and he wasn't going to vote on something he didn't have a chance to consider.



Free tagging: 


You know why

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He was probably out of the country in Limerick.

Not Separate Equal Opportunity seems uncontroversial to me.

Did the language of the resolution imply approval of how Brown v BOE was implemented in Boston or just it's philosophical goal of not separate equal opportunity? I think it was the latter.

I guess some Democrats fear the part of their base scarred by busing. The three who voted present are Democrats, aren't they?

They're all Democrats

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There hasn't been a non-Democrat since Green Rainbow member Chuck Turner had to leave (and before that, it might have been Republican John Sears back in the 80s, unless you count Dapper O'Neil, who, based on his endorsing Reagan in 1980, was really more of a DINO than anything else).

But you do realize that, officially, council elections are not partisan, right?

Democrats are a big tent party.

I'm disappointed in the councilors who couldn't agree on the principle: Non-separate equal opportunity.

ACLU Brown at 60:

"In 1954, the problems of racial discrimination were explicit. Today they are subtle and structural. "

Any mention of

Any mention of Brown v Board that doesn't include Plessey n Fergusen (sp?) is incomplete.

Good for Linehan, Murphy and LaMattina

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Good for Councilors Linehan, Murphy and LaMattina for refusing to be phonies. The Busing order was a racist disaster for the city and left the Boston Public School System in shambles. Everyone knows this but those other 10 city councilors who voted in favor of the resolution did not have the courage to stand up and state the obvious. Cowardice in the name of Political Correctness is no way to serve the people of Boston.

Please read

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They weren't voting on busing. They were voting on celebrating Brown v. BOE desegregating schools in America. This had nothing to do with busing in Boston except the fear by three councilors that some of their more out-there constituents might have drawn a non-existent connection.


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Destruction of America's public school system? I don't know about you, but it don't think that's something we should celebrate.

So sorry to hear you think

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So sorry to hear you think desegregation ruined the school system. It must be hard for you.

Look at BPS

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And yes, it is hard for many urban parents who cannot afford private schools.

Separate and "substandard"

In 1974, Garrity took control of the public schools from the elected Boston School Committee, charging that the officials had deliberately kept blacks in substandard schools.

Obituary: W.A. Garrity; Judge Desegregated Boston Schools, 9/18/1999

Maybe the Boston City Council should vote on a resolution that the Boston School Committee in 1974 "deliberately kept blacks in substandard schools."

Forced Busing

set the city and its school system back decades. White parents put their kids before the desired outcome of the Garrity ruling and moved out ensuring that the schools would never be desegregated. Neighborhood schools, the glue of any stable community were sacrificed to meet the requirements of a court judgement. Black families fled as well and those with connections were privileged to have access to METCO a program that would not allow whites, asians or hispanics to participate. I don't know anyone who went through that time that looks back fondly and thinks it deserves celebration.

If you can't separate the two

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If you can't separate the two issues of desegregation and forced busing, I don't know what to tell you. Brown vs BOE didn't force anyone to bus anything.

You seem to not understand

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You seem to not understand Brown vs. Board of Education, the City Council vote last week and why busing was forced on Boston. No one is celebrating busing. You really think the families of color who were on the receiving end of extreme racism by white families want to celebrate busing? They wanted equal educational opportunities which Brown vs. Board of Education guaranteed, but white Boston leadership REFUSED to provide. Brown was in the 50s and busing was in the 70s. Busing happened because Boston leaders were unwilling, for 20 years, to create a plan to assure equality in the schools for all children. The City Council vote was not about busing.

Read Judge Garrity's decision sometime

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The forced busing decision was a remedy to forced segregation practiced by the Boston School Committee. As the racial makeup of the neighborhoods changed over time, the School Committee redrew the lines and actually forced black and white students to attend schools other than their local schools to achieve forced segregation. If the School Committee had continued the practice of letting students attend their local schools, and let the racial makeup reflect the local population, there would have been no legal justification for busing .

The School Committee brought it upon themselves and then blamed the evil blacks and the evil libruls for what happened.


And the end result might be more racist than how it was before. Now black kids have to get up earlier to be bussed to black schools in other parts of the city.

As long as the semi-private Boston Latin exists, there will be enough white parents satisfied with the system and nothing will change.


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I feel as if we may have had this chat before but can you explain to me how on earth BLS is "semi-private?"

It is not semi-private

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It's probably better than a lot of private schools, but, no, it's not semi-private just because it has an entrance exam.

And trust me, there are white parents committed to public education in Boston well before their kids are old enough to take the ISEE.

I'm not saying that Adam....

It's one of the best schools in the country, public or private. And as I mention above, it isn't as public as Brookline High is for Brookline residents, or it isn't as public as the BPL is for Boston residents.

And I know there are tons of people of all races who are committed to public education, but there would be more committment in my opinion if you eliminated exam schools and said neighborhood schools were coming back with some modifications (kids from certain parts of the city can choose to go to certain schools for certain programs).

In what sense is it "less public"

In what sense is Boston Latin "less public" than any other institution? It's available, completely free of charge, to any resident who meets the entrance requirements.

Just as the public roads are available for motoring use by anyone who meets the drivers' licensing requirement.

Like I said.....

Every single other great public High School in MA doesn't have an entrance exam. Every resident can go to the school in their town, and the town has to let them go and provide the same services as it does other students. It is public in the sense that public funds support it, but as I mentioned above, private funds can tip that school and put it on a unequal level from other public schools.

Driving is different because you can cause harm to others if you can't drive properly. Plus everyone deserves a shot at public education, no one has the right to drive a car.

Do you just argue for the sake of arguing Bob? I get that feeling sometimes.


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Can cause harm to others if you don't drive properly. Going to school can cause harm to others if you thug it out and don't let teachers do their job. We NEED exam schools like BLS, where kids can still get quality education without having to deal with thugs who go to school to fight and/or deal drugs, bused in from 10 miles away in the name of PC.

Compare Boston to Brookline for example.

Kids that grow up in a housing project near the Boston Latin School don't all automatically get to go to the Boston Latin School. Kids that grow up in a project near Brookline High School (Egmont St or 22 High St project) all get to go to school at Brookline High with the Chestnut Hill kids and everyone else from Brookline. The kid from the Boston project might have to get on a bus and waste 2 hours of his day on transportation that the Brookline High kid doesn't have to waste.

Just like the kid from those Boston projects has the same access to the BPL as his West Roxbury counterpart. There is no literacy test to determine who gets to use the BPL services, everyone gets to use them.

Want to use the basketball hoop at Rogers or Fallon field? No athletic test needed to use those public parks, any Boston resident can use them.

Want to play football for Boston Latin in the Dual County league (Newton South, Lincoln Sudbury, etc) and have 8 paid football coaches and superior facilities? Well you better pass a test to do that. Or else you go to Brighton High (wasting 2 hours of your day to get to and from) and then take the bus to Cleveland Circle to practice. Brookline kids all get to play in that nice league with Newton North, Wellesley, etc and have their 8 coaches and facilities, and there is no exam exlcuding anyone in that town (or any other town in MA ) from using the programs there. Private funding for sports at Latin? Sure is, uniforms and warmups that the South Boston kids (From Roxbury) don't get.

The Brookline parents that wanted to privately fund an auditorium at one of the elementary schools? Nope, not allowed Brookline says. All private funds must to into a general fund so ALL STUDENTS in the town have equal access to those funds.

I'm giving a little dig to the system here, not Boston Latin. It's a great school, probably as great as Brookline High if not better. But Brookline lets all its residents attend, Boston Latin doesn't.

Eight paid football coaches?

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"Superior facilities"? You are aware the Boston Latin football team practices at the (public) Clemente field, yes? You are aware that the football coaches are a gym teacher and a math teacher, yes? I really think you're overestimating Boston Latin's athletics department, especially considering the football team (and most of its other sports teams) is widely considered terrible.

Sorry talking about Brookline....

But last year I believe there were only a few schools in the BPS that could field JV and or freshman teams, and had 2 buses to away games for all three teams. (BLS actually had to travel farther to their home games in South Boston or White Stadium). They have also used Windsor's turf fields before.

My point wasn't that the school had better sports, but that students had more access to higher levels of play than other schools in Boston. While the winner of the Dual County league got to play in Foxboro for a State Championship, Brighton High got to play at Bentley College and then Curry for their championships (The new system has now changed that).

And I'm also all for some sort of academic standard in order to play sports in HS, but I think the BPS is sometimes a little too harsh on kids who make a mistake every once in a while. I'm also sure BLS is not effected as much as the other schools are.

Well, make up your mind.

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When I read that about the 8 paid football coaches I laughed out loud--and football is the one sport that DOES get some attention and money there. It's still a relative pittance. And I've never heard of BLS using Winsor's fields. It just doesn't seem to me like you know what you're talking about on this subject. It's a public school, exam or no exam, and incredibly under-resources especially ehen compared with Brookline, Newton or any like schools.

Ignoring everything else?

Every brookline kid gets to attend a high school where 90% of the students go to 4 year colleges, no matter how they do on a test. Boston kids that can't cut it academically by the 7th grade go to a school where 15% get to go to 4 year colleges. Either way, kids get left out.

It's not the school, it's the parents

Every Brookline kid gets to attend a public high school where 80% of their parents went to 4 year colleges (the highest rate in the country), and 98% of their employed parents work in a white-collar job.

The school has little to do with 90% of the kids going to college. It's the parents.

In Boston, 18% of residents didn't even complete high school, and 43% never went to college. Overwhelmingly, it's the children of those parents who are in the BPS, not the children of the 15% of Boston residents with graduate degrees. About 26% of Boston kids don't go to our public schools (again, guess which ones).

22% of the kids in BPS in 7th grade are at an exam school, and that's great considering the demographic. But even at Latin you wouldn't see a parent demographic like Brookline at large. That parent demographic is only at private schools in Boston.

The students that attend BLS,

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The students that attend BLS, BLA, and O'Bryant chose to take the exam. Anyone can take the entrance exam. The kids that attend really want to be there and deserve to be.
Kids that live close to these school don't attend school miles away from home because of an exam, it is because of busing. Would you like to get rid of the entrance exam or busing?


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Isn't this a capitalist country? How is a good school different from a Rolls Royce? Many want a Rolls Royce but only a few can afford it. Many want to send their kids to Weston schools, but only the few who can afford to live in Weston are able to.

Speaking of Weston, why do middle and working-class urban parents get to suffer in the name of PC while rich suburban schools get to remain lily-white? In many cases, it would be much quicker and cheaper to drive a bus to a neighboring white town instead of going from Mattapan to Brighton, for example. Why do suburb dwellers get to tell cities what to do and not have to deal with the outcome? If you want communism than make it communism - everyone is equal and gets to suffer equally, some cannot be more equal than others.

And some of us

Don't want our Rolls Royces to have to share the roads with carts drawn by barely literate sheep.

As one blogger recently put it "I support the schools because I don't want to live in a country full of idiots" or something like it.


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As it says on the main BPL (and I paraphrase) "The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty."


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In that case, why don't towns like Brookline, Newton and Weston share some of that fundamental civic good they've been hoarding all along? Theirs is of much higher quality than elsewhere, and they're a stone throw away from some of the poorest communities in the state. Why force it on certain communities (more affluent Boston neighborhoods) while leaving others (affluent suburbs) completely unaffected?

The answer is that affluent

The answer is that affluent Boston neighborhoods are part of the City of Boston and Brookline, Newton and Weston aren't. If you're proposing that schools in Massachusetts be handled on the state level instead of the town level, you won't get any objection from me.


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Segregation is segregation, period. Specifically, economic segregation - better schools are in more affluent communities, that has always been the case. Either desegregate all schools and make all of them uniformly crappy, or let the market sort it out. Don't punish city dwellers while keeping all the rich suburbanites insulated from the outcome.

Hey Wu

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How do you feel about your buddy Linehan now?


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The 60th anniversary of Brown is completely arbitrary. It's not like some part of the decision suddenly expired or went into effect today. So why does Boston need this frivolous resolution in the first place? Does the city get a $25 gift card for being one of the first 50 cities to vote on a resolution mentioning Brown today?

Error in reporting

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Murphy is quoted, arguing, like LaMattina, that the text and method of passing the resolution annoyed them. Linehan and Yancey, the author, did not return calls.

Edit- the stupid autocorrect function had me saying that Murphy was "aging." Now he is "arguing."

The City Cannot Do It

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Come on Don. You, more than anyone else, should know that the City is prohibited by state law (Chapter 447 of the Acts of 1947) from publishing the debates of the City Council, or the "stenographic record" as you call it.

Council Gong show

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Profiles in courage this vote on either side was a joke. How about a real hearing on the safety of the thousands of sixth and seventh grade school kids who will forced off yellow school buses next September and onto overcrowded T trains which will result in more delays do to fights, mayhem and kids being subjected to junkies,whinos and perverts on their daily commute.


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The kids will bring the fights and the mayhem; the junkies, whinos (sic) and perverts will do the rest? Please. A middle school bus is hell on earth compared to your average T train.

And yet, somehow ...

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Sixth and seventh graders at some Boston schools (the exam schools) have had to rely on the T to get to/from school for ages and have yet to die.

How about

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Kids WALK to their neighborhood schools instead? Every neighborhood in Boston has a school that's within walking distance for the vast majority of the students living there.

Do you know what a map is?

Maybe you should look at one sometime. Not every neighborhood has a walking distance school that can accommodate all the kids who are close to it.


Most of them have been torn down or converted into apartments by now.


...or residential facilities for the elderly -- lots of these in Roslindale (plus Roslindale High School).

Apropos of nothing else, the

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Apropos of nothing else, the very hearing you're calling for already happened a few weeks ago.

Kinda feel like this might

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Kinda feel like this might all be avoided if we just had the stenographic record, right?

Thezak kind of has a point

Elected officials tend to behave better when their actions (which, by law, are a matter of public record) are actually and easily accessible by the public.

Linehan update

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So LInehan's story is that the motion was filed at the last minute, and he didn't have a chance to read it, blah, blah, blah. Shorter version. Linehan is a liar.

Captioning full text. Last Public Meeting. Boston City Council.

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Now available ! Full text. Complete Captions from the last webcast. All Captioning for hard of hearing on the last webcast of the Public Meeting of Boston City Council, available via

Current Status on Captioning

n Current live Captioning – Available on Cable TV and Internet

    ß Boston City Council meetings and hearings
        ß Approximately 200 per year, roughly three 2-hour meetings per week
        ß Usually between 10 am – 3 pm, Monday-Friday

    ß Boston Redevelopment Authority
        ß Approximately 48 hours per year
        ß Twelve 4- hour monthly meetings, 6pm Thursday evenings

    ß Boston School Committee
        ß Approximately 104 hours per year

Mayor Walsh has also committed to adding additional boards and commissions, likely the Public Improvement Commission (where sidewalk permits originate) and Zoning Board of Appeal. Both are expected to start within the month.

n Challenges over the years
    ß Location
    ß Software
    ß Audio Quality
    ß Cost of live transcription

n Going Forward
    ß Improve reliability
    ß Resolving audio issues in various hearing rooms
    ß Making presenters aware of the importance of using audio equipment

The City is planning to install a TV in the City Council; Chamber that will show live captions for those attending in person. This is in the budget for July 2014 build project.

[ city seal ]
[ Bostonia Condita AD. 1630. ]
[ Boston Founded in the Year of Our Lord 1630. ]

[ Sicut Patribus, Sit Deus Nobis. ]
[ God Be with Us as He Was with Our Fathers. ]
[ 1 Kings viii 57 ],_Perth

[ Civitatis Regimine Donata AD. 1822. ]
[ City Status Granted by the Authority of the State in the Year of Our Lord 1822. ]

Guess!... the 1947 legislator? who filed Chapter 447 Acts 1947

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a) Guess!... the 1947 legislator? who filed the bill for Chapter 447 Acts 1947

b) also of interest the 1909 legislator who filed Section 29 Chapter 486 Acts 1909
c) and the 1934 legislator who filed Section 1 Chapter 185 Acts1934

Acts 1947 c447
Acts 1909 c486 s29
Acts 1934 c185 s1

d) Of note for a favorite legislator's Legislative Aide
Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 914 FILED ON: 1/15/2013
HOUSE NO. 2787
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Antonio F. D. Cabral
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court assembled:
The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:
An Act further regulating access to public records.
Antonio F. D. Cabral 13th Bristol
Denise Provost 27th Middlesex
By Mr. Cabral of New Bedford, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 2787) of Antonio F. D. Cabral and Denise Provost relative to access to public records. State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.
SEE HOUSE, NO. 1735 OF 2011-2012.]
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen
An Act further regulating access to public records.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 7. Chapter 447 of the acts of 1947 is hereby amended by striking the following:
“; provided, that the substance of debates by and among the members of the city council shall not be so published or published elsewhere at the expense of said city”

e) Other related amendments, laws, Regulations, cases, rules, ordinances, practices

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
> If you haven't read the act
> By Waquiot on Sat, 05/17/2014 - 11:58am
> It's right here. I suppose making a video and putting it online is not a violation of the act, but it is coming close.

ACTS, 1947. --- CHAP. 447.
Be it enacted, etc., as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter 486 of the acts of 1909 is hereby amended by striking out section 29, as amended by section 1 of chapter 185 of the acts of 1934, and inserting in place thereof the following section: --- Section 29. Within ninety days after the passage of this act and thereafter there shall be published at least once a week and distributed and sold under the direction of the mayor and on terms to be fixed by the city council and approved by the mayor a paper to be known as the "City Record." All advertising with reference to the sale of property for non-payment of taxes shall appear exclusively in the City Record. All other advertising, whether required by law or not, with reference to the purchase or taking of land, contracts for work, materials or supplies, and the sale of bonds, shall appear in said paper, and in such newspaper or newspapers as the mayor, in his discretion, may order; a list of all contracts of one thousand dollars or more, as awarded, with the names of bidders, and the amount of the bids; appointments by the mayor; and changes in the number and compensation of employees in each department, shall be published in the City Record. Failure to publish in such newspaper or newspapers as the mayor may order shall not invalidate any purchase, contract or sale made or action taken by the city. The proceedings of the city council and school committee together with all communications from the mayor, shall be published in the City Record; provided, that the substance of debates by and among the members of the city council shall not be so published or published elsewhere at the expense of said city.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved May 24, 1947.

City Record boston

Information about changes to 1947 Mass. Acts, chap. 447 via

Tracking it, the 1947 amendment has a 1909 special act as its inception.

The original special act, 1909 Mass Acts, chap. 486, section 29 has as its last sentence the following... "The proceedings of the city council and school committee together with all communications from the mayor, shall be published in the City Record."

1934 Mass. Acts chap. 185 makes some changes to the 1909 and replaces the text of section 29.

1947 Mass. Acts chap 447 adds this text to the end of section 29... "provided, that the substance of debates by and among the members of the city council shall not be so published or published elsewhere at the expense of said city."

1973 Mass. Acts chap. 1177, section 63, removes "and school committee" from the last sentence of section 29.
SECTION 63. The third sentence of section 29 of said chapter 486 is hereby amended by striking out, in line 2, the words "and school committee".

1974 Mass. Acts chap. 276, section 59, removes "and school committee" from the last sentence of section 29 again.
SECTION 59. The third sentence of section 29 of said chapter 486 is hereby amended by striking out, in line 2, the words "and school committee".

More information to 1947 Mass. Acts, chap. 447.

In the index to the 1947 Journal of the House of Representatives there was an entry under the heading of Boston for the bill prohibiting the publication in the Boston City Record of the substance of debates in the city council. The references of 1080, 1126, 1143, 1219 (amend); enacted, 1260 (ch. 447) are to page numbers within the 1947 Journal of the House.

On page 1080, there is a reference to House, No. 2079. House, No. 2079 refers to Senate, No. 530, App E and is a reprint of page 2 of House No. 2079.

Senate No. 530 is 71 pages and is titled "Report of the Special Commission Studying the Boston City Charter", April 1, 1947.
Other contents
Supplementary statement of Mr. Rand
Supplementary statement of Representative Johnson
Supplementary statement of John A. Breen and Frederick W. Roche
Minority report of Judge Daniel J. Gillen
Minority report of Rupert S. Carven
Proposed legislation Appendix A.
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E (identical to page 2 of House No. 2079)
Appendix F
Appendix G
Appendix H
Appendix I, partial bibliography
Appendix J, changes in methods of electing the Board of Aldermen and the City Council since 1821