Presenter Information

Meaghan Fernandes

Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Tobin Miller Shearer

Faculty Mentor’s Department

History

Abstract

In 1974, a federal court order mandated busing in Boston Public Schools after decades of de facto segregation; in response, the city’s majority Irish Catholic population became unparalleled in their resistance to busing in comparison of the rest of the city and even in the face of their own diocese. In this essay, I argue that despite support for desegregation from most of the Archdiocese of Boston as well as the newly seated Bishop, Irish Catholics living in the area refused to support integration efforts via government intervention. Using the family first theology of Irish-American Cardinal William O’Connell as their justification, Irish Catholics rejected the gospel-based, pro-integration policies of the archdiocese. By analyzing the motivations of the anti-integration Irish through the lens of religion rather than race, this essay allows for a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind the actions taken. Most previous scholarship has focused on the racial aspect of the crisis. Though race played an important part in the resistance to the archdiocese, the religious motivations played a crucial role in the organization of anti-busing Catholics. My research newly exposes the link between the family first theology of O’Connell and parents’ decisions to send their children to Catholic schools during the anti-busing efforts. The organizers of these efforts grew up under this theology and were heavily influenced by O’Connell’s message of familial choice.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 27th, 9:20 AM Apr 27th, 9:40 AM

"You Know Where I Stand"- The Irish Catholic Response to the Boston Busing Crisis of 1974

UC 331

In 1974, a federal court order mandated busing in Boston Public Schools after decades of de facto segregation; in response, the city’s majority Irish Catholic population became unparalleled in their resistance to busing in comparison of the rest of the city and even in the face of their own diocese. In this essay, I argue that despite support for desegregation from most of the Archdiocese of Boston as well as the newly seated Bishop, Irish Catholics living in the area refused to support integration efforts via government intervention. Using the family first theology of Irish-American Cardinal William O’Connell as their justification, Irish Catholics rejected the gospel-based, pro-integration policies of the archdiocese. By analyzing the motivations of the anti-integration Irish through the lens of religion rather than race, this essay allows for a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind the actions taken. Most previous scholarship has focused on the racial aspect of the crisis. Though race played an important part in the resistance to the archdiocese, the religious motivations played a crucial role in the organization of anti-busing Catholics. My research newly exposes the link between the family first theology of O’Connell and parents’ decisions to send their children to Catholic schools during the anti-busing efforts. The organizers of these efforts grew up under this theology and were heavily influenced by O’Connell’s message of familial choice.