Civil Rights Activist Donates Documents

* Schlesinger Library to house Batson's papers

Ruth M. Batson, a celebrated community and civil rights activists, has donated the papers documenting her social contributions to the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College.

Batson's donation consists of photographs, correspondence, speeches, clippings and reports from a number of organizations in which she was actively involved, according to a press release.

The papers will contribute to the library's ongoing Black Women Oral History Project.

As part of the project, the library recently interviewed 72 prominent African American women from across the country, all of whom have made a significant impact on American society.

Batson has been most involved in her efforts to fight racism. She has served as a commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and as the founder and director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO).


The 25-year-old METCO program's original purpose was to provide exchange opportunities for students between urban and suburban schools. Just last September, the program's first study revealed the major impact of the program in the Boston community.

Seventy percent of the parents involved in the program said that the academic quality of the program was the most important factor in their choice to enroll their children in METCO.

Twenty percent said that they would most likely leave Boston if METCO were unavailable.

The success of the program was echoed by the study's director Gary A. Orfield, professor of education and social policy at the Kennedy School of Government and the Graduate School of Education.

"What was so surprising to us was the extraordinary high level of parent satisfaction with the education their children were receiving," Orfield said.

As an associate professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine from 1970 to 1986, Batson created innovative models for the enforcement of community mental health services for people of different racial and social backgrounds.

An active presence in the Boston community, Batson has also served as the president and executive director of the Museum of Afro-American History in Boston from 1985 to 1988.

She also founded the Ruth M. Batson Educational Foundation, an institution that has been instrumental in providing education-related grants to African-American students and community organizations.