This is a first hand experience from Phyllis Ellison, a Roxbury student who said she felt she was making history by being bused to South Boston High.
“When I got off the bus, first of all I felt important, because of the news media that was there. [Television reporter] Natalie Jacobson out in front of your school getting the story on your school. So I felt really important going through the metal detectors and making sure that no one could come into the school armed. I felt like this was a big deal to me, to attend South Boston High School.”
“I felt like I was making history, because that was the first year of desegregation and all the controversies and conflicts at that time. I felt that the black students there were making history.”
“If I had it to do all over again, for the civil rights part of it, I would do it over, because I felt like my rights were being violated by the white people of South Boston telling me that I could not go to South Boston High School. As far as my education, I think I could have gotten a better education if I didn’t spend so much time out of school with the fighting and the violence and being dismissed from school at least once or twice a week. We were allowed to go home early because there was just so much tension inside of the school that if we didn’t, someone may be killed or really seriously injured. I think that I could have gotten a better education if I’d spent more time in school than out of school at that time.”
For three years, as many as 300 state police officers a day patrolled South Boston High. One teacher compared the school to a prison: “We can’t leave school, we can’t come early or on the weekends to do preparatory work. We are like prisoners. Everyday when I get up, it’s like getting up to go to prison.”
When Buses Started Rolling- Work in Progress: South Boston Resident’s experience