Dorchester History Initiative Series | March 15, 2017

Two UMass graduate students will spotlight two very different versions of Dorchester's grassroots community activism from four decades ago:

Taylor Finch: "The People First: An Era of Community Activism in Dorchester 1969-1975."

 In the late 1960s and early 1970s a group of young political activists, disillusioned with the anarchistic militancy that pervaded much of the student left, sought practical ways to connect with working class people in the community.  Consulting published works, original editions ofDorchester Community News, and memories of the activists themselves, Taylor Finch explores the roots of progressive political activism in Dorchester, and rediscovers "THE PEOPLE FIRST", an organization of student activists and long-time residents who worked together to fight hunger, poverty, racism, judicial corruption and the Vietnam war and its impact on the community.

Matthew Clark: "Abdication of Responsibility at the Lee School"

Also in the late 1960s the Boston School Committee hoped to comply with the 1965 Racial Imbalance Act by attracting people from black and white communities to state-of-the-art "magnet schools" such as the Joseph Lee on Talbot Avenue. Failure to desegregate the Lee in 1971 was the pivotal event leading to the Federal Court's desegregation order three years later and the resulting busing crisis. Consulting published works and original City archives Matthew Clark looks back on the state of Boston Public Schools in the 1960s, possible solutions the City explored, the planning of the Lee School, and why the Lee school ultimately failed to achieve its mission.






John McColgan