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8000 Marchers in Roxbury Protest Segregation in City's Public Schools

By David I. Oyama

More than 8000 Negroes and whites marched through Roxbury Sunday and gathered, to protest de facto segregation in Boston's public schools, in front of a school built five years after the end of the Civil War.

The marchers included 100 students from Harvard and Radcliffe, most of them members of the Civil Rights Coordinating Committee here.

Starting from two assembly areas, the marchers streamed down Columbus Ave. and Tremont St. and up Walnut Ave. to the Sherwin School, 70 Windsor St. They stopped at several churches along the way to pick up congregations which had agreed to join the march at the close of their morning worship.

At one point, the river of placards formed by the first group of marchers filled Tremont St. for almost the entire six-block distance to the Sherwin School. At the school they were met by an equally large throng which had proceeded from the south up Walnut Ave.

Epps Leads March

Archie Epps 2G and Thomas I. Atkins, a Harvard graduate student on leave to work as executive secretary of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, led the march.

Epps also organized the Boston delegation for the Aug. 28 Washington march.

The marchers gathered before the Sherwin School as a light drizzle began to fall.

The three-story red brick structure is the only building in the area which has yet to be condemned or razed. It is surrounded by a field of tall weeds, shells of partially demolished buildings, and a run-down playground.

The school had been chosen as a meeting place for the rally because it is the most obvious example, according to the march's leaders, of "separate and un-equal" facilities in the Boston school system.

The school has an enrollment of 316 Negroes and one white boy.

Sponsored by NAACP

The "March on Roxbury," sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was planned as a demonstration of support for the NAACP in its fight against the Boston School Committee.

Although the Committee has accepted 12 of the 14 proposals the NAACP made in July, it has refused to consider or recognize the existence of do facto segregation in the city's school system. It has also questioned the NAACP's voice in speaking for the Negro.

Yesterday, Epps told the crowd that "no one can say any longer that the NAACP is without support."

Atkins, in the final address of the day, declared, "The School Committee is unable to decipher a Latin phrase. So we are here today to tell them that there is segregation, in fact, in Boston today."

He reiterated what had been the key-note of the day--the Negro vote--in view of tomorrow's primary for municipal officers, including School Committee posts, and the coming Nov. 5 elections.

Atkins urged registered voters to vote Tuesday against "those who oppose the NAACP." He announced that a voter registration campaign will be conducted to register the 15,000 unregistered voters in Roxbury in time for the November elections.

Forgotten Man

"Everyone has forgotten the Negro because he has forgotten himself," Atkins said. He observed that less than 50 per cent of Roxbury voters had voted in the last election and called it "a mistake."

"We're going to overcome our own mistakes, and when we do that, we're going to overcome a system that has forced us to live in a ghetto and to go to the Sherwin School," he said.

While thousands attended memorial services across the country for the six Negro children who died in Birmingham, Ala., a week ago, a member of the bombed 16th Ave. Baptist Church spoke at the Roxbury rally.

Attorney Orzel Billingsley said, "All of us in Birmingham believe in non-violence, but none of us is so naive to believe that, if our churches continue to be bombed, our people can keep fighting on the basis of love and non-violence."

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