Responses to Judge Garrity’s Decision

On June 21, 1974, Judge W. Arthur Garrity ruled that the Boston School Committee’s districting policies were discriminatory on the basis of race. Teachers expected the decision around this time, but the reality of it was still shocking. Desegregation immediately went from an idealistic goal to a complicated reality.

Within days, Judge Garrity received letters from people on all sides of the desegregation issue. Most begged for him to reverse his order, some threatened him if he did not, and a few thanked him for finally taking their concerns over equal quality of education seriously. Most of the people who wrote to Garrity were so incensed by desegregation, for various reasons, that they felt compelled to communicate their opinions. Several of those letters are displayed by month below. They are pulled from UMass Boston’s collection of Judge Garrity’s papers.

Warning: Some of the language in these letters is disturbing. Several contain racist ideologies.


“Dear Sir, I am writing this letter in protest of your ruling on the busing issue. I am a World War II veteran… but your finding makes it difficult to be law abiding and passive any longer.”

“We West Roxbury parents cannot relax as we are still boiling over your decision.”

“You just sold the people of Boston down the river for your own convenience…”


“What have you done to help put poor black families into the wealthy suburb of Wellesley?” [Where Garrity lived.]

“When this city allows one man to ruin a pleasant way of life for thousands of people, we want no part of it. You will not bus my child.”

“If racially balanced schools cannot be secured in Boston, what hope is there for other cities of our good and great land? Continue the fight for justice.”


“I am going into my senior year at [previous] High School (I hope)… There are many reasons why I feel I should be allowed to stay at [previous school].

“Finally, as I write I think of the words of Jesus Christ in the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to John. The question arises about the man who is blind from birth. I see an analogy with the people who will not, cannot see the injustice, in this case toward our black brothers and sisters.”

“There will be many problems to be ironed out with this first year of busing. For the sake of one year couldn’t you just eliminate the problems of seniors? I’m so unhappy that I just had to write to you. Thank you for listening to me.”

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