Black Mass Keeps Throwing Southie into the Past

This week, the street outside South Boston High reads 'Stop Forced Busing.'

As shooting for the upcoming Whitey Bulger movie “Black Mass” makes its way around South Boston, the city keeps getting glimpses of its past as portrayed by Hollywood set designers. Last month, the bar and Bulger hangout Triple O’s reappeared in Cambridge. This week, the pavement outside South Boston High School now has graffiti reading “Stop Forced Busing” and “Press Print the Truth.”

The film stars Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger and portrays a story that’s very familiar to Southie. A Boston Globe story last week explored the feelings of some Southie residents who feel the movie is dredging up old wounds and possibly glorifying a man who terrorized and murdered their neighborhood’s residents for years. Now the set has thrown Southie back to one of its most ugly moments—the period after a judge ordered the desegregation of Boston’s schools by busing students to and from South Boston High School—the movie, it seems, will take on Bulger’s role in resisting and protesting that ruling with violence. According to ­the Globe:

Bulger boasted about riddling the offices of the Globe with gunfire in protest over what he called the Globe’s demonization of Southie and its residents during busing. The book also recounts his firebombing of the Brookline birthplace of President John F. Kennedy because of the Kennedy family’s support of US District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr., whose order imposed busing, and a separate attack on a Wellesley elementary school near Garrity’s home.

Fast forward over 40 years, and the street outside South Boston High once again reads “Stop Forced Busing.” That, as much or more than the vintage cars parked outside triple-deckers or Johnny Depp walking around like the spitting image of Bulger himself, offers a physical manifestation of the way the movie is diving into the demons in Boston’s past. Not everyone may be happy about it, but at least until shooting is through, residents should steel themselves for the possibility that they’ll walk right into the 1970s.