Boston Busing/Desegregation Project

(Click here for the BBD Project website)

UMN is one of the few organizations I know that speaks truth to power. It consistently takes principled positions and views, and engages in tactics that go against the status quo. The Boston Busing Desegregation Project is one of the most groundbreaking and transformational projects I have seen in a long time. No one else is addressing the painful legacy of education in Boston using powerful reconciliation models from around the world.”

— Kelly Bates, Esq.
Executive Director, Access Strategies Fund

In attempts to organize African-American parents to become more engaged in the Boston Public School System, UMN encountered cynicism and distrust towards the school system. Much of the energy, pain and anger expressed surround Boston school desegregation and busing. Busing/desegregation in Boston was a watershed moment in the city’s history. The violence that met desegregation here was a shock to the nation as it clashed with Boston’s image and identity as a liberal-minded city.

We are engaging Bostonians in a community truth process, to come to a shared un­ derstanding of that violent era and to engage people in real change in our schools for all children. We are working to:

  • Build a cross-cultural coalition of parents dedicated to educational equity, access, and excellence.
  • Address the post-trauma stress of that era and the resulting reluctance of some parents in African American communities to become more involved in current educational reform work;
  • Hold a real discussion on race that bridges communities across race, class, and ethnic lines.

Through partnering with communities across race, ethnicity, and class, we are working to come to a shared understanding of a violent history and to engage people in bringing real change to an educational system that still perpetuates some of the same ills onto our children. We use our film, Can We Talk, as the basis for these discussions.

Click here for a key findings report about the initial research and planning for this project. It is necessary to enrich community relationships so we can reach and include as many Bostonians as possible. If you are interested in being a part of this initiative please contact Donna Bivens at