Saturday, May 4, 2013

Boston Civil Rights Field Trip

I recently led a group of 115 students on a field trip where we visited several civil rights-related sites in the city of Boston. To help students visualize the past, each student was given a photograph packet with images from Boston between 1950-1990. The JFK Library, where we normally begin our trip, was closed due to a recent fire. As a result, our field trip began at Carson Beach on the South Boston/Dorchester line, where students learned about the race-related tensions that broke out there in 1977. We then proceeded up Day Boulevard and to the top of Dorchester Heights, where we discussed the numerous protests in front of South Boston High School after Judge Arthur Garrity ordered forced busing in 1974 to achieve racial desegregation of the schools. Beforehand, to better understand the historical context, most of the students had viewed the "Eyes on the Prize" on Boston Busing in class. Along our route back to the bus, we also discussed the proliferation of racist graffiti that sprung up during that period, and walked by the Carson Tower apartments, where "Kill Niggers" was spray painted near the top of the building.

We then proceeded back down to the buses and traveled to Government Center. Students visited the site where the infamous photograph "The Soiling of Old Glory" was taken and we discussed the 1976 rally against forced busing that turned violent. Next, students walked to Boston Common, where in 1965 Martin Luther King led a march from Roxbury concluding with a speech and rally of 50,000 in support of the Voting Rights Act and against the resistance of the Boston School Committee to desegregate Boston's schools. We then traveled to the South End, where we discussed Boston's first Gay Pride Parade in 1970, established to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. Finally, we finished our field trip by discussing the numerous visits by members of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta's National Farm Workers Association to local union halls and Catholic churches in the Boston area and finally the increased Asian American activism in Chinatown following the 1982 racially-motivated murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit.

If teachers would like to replicate the Boston Civil Rights Trail field trip, below is the field trip guide, photograph packet, and Google Maps walking directions.

Resources: Boston Civil Rights Tour Guide and Boston Civil Rights Tour Photographs

Google Maps of the Field Trip Route:
Segment 1: South Boston Portion
Segment 2: Downtown Portion

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