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NBC - NY Antibusing Mother

by Matt Delmont

On a snowy March day in 1964, over ten thousand white parents walked from the Board of Education Building in Brooklyn to city hall in Manhattan to protest against school desegregation in New York City. Carrying signs reading, “We oppose voluntary transfers,” “Keep our children in neighborhood schools,” “I will not put my children on a bus,” and “We will not be bused,” the marchers called their coalition of local organizations “Parents and Taxpayers.” They hoped to persuade the school board to abandon a school pairing plan that called for students to be transferred between predominantly black and Puerto Rican schools and white schools. “Most of the demonstrators were taking their case into the streets for the first time,” the New York Times reported, noting that more than seventy percent of the demonstrators were women. “For every mother who’s here, there’s another one sitting at home with both her children, wishing she could be here,” said Joan Adabo a mother from Jackson Heights, Queens. While the protestors sought to influence policy at the city level, television news captured the scope of the march for a national audience. On NBC and ABC, rooftop camera shots showed a long line of protestors snaking through the wet streets of the city, while another camera angle depicted marchers, ten abreast, emerging from the fog as they crossed the Brooklyn bridge (figure 1). A street-level shot panned down to capture the marchers’ reflection in the curbside puddles, an artistic image that emphasized that the protestors braved inclement weather to be heard and seen. Television news, as well as newspaper coverage and photographs, gave the protestors national visibility. One mother spoke frankly to an NBC reporter about why Parents and Taxpayers opted for a public protest march: “we feel like we can prove as much as our opponents to use the same tactics. We have as much right as they do. These are our civil rights and we’re taking advantage of them.”

NBC - NY Antibusing Mother speaking

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NBC coverage of New York antibusing protests in 1964 with quote from mother

from NBC News (1964)
Creator: NBC
Distributor: NBC
Posted by Matt Delmont
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