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Boston Against BusingRace, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s$
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Ronald P. Formisano

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780807855263

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807869703_formisano

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Reactionary Populism

Reactionary Populism

(p.172) 8 Reactionary Populism
Boston Against Busing

Ronald P. Formisano

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how the populist character of Boston antibusing arose from the location of antibusing in the lower and middle ranks of society, from its mobilization of ordinary citizens into new avenues of participation, and from those moderate, mostly middle-class or stable working-class antibusers who were in fact reformist, egalitarian, and antielite. Militant antibusing did not challenge established structures of political or economic power, but it did spring from the bottom half of the population and exuded fierce class resentments and antielitism. Its focus on “judicial tyranny” was largely circumstancial, and not something about which citizens ordinarily felt much anxiety. Yet antibusing at all levels drew upon a widespread sense of injustice, unfairness, and deprivation of rights, which did activate ordinary people to unprecedented degrees in the 1970s.

Keywords:   populist character, Boston antibusing, avenues of participation, working-class antibusers

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