A Reflection on The Curley K-8 School Circa 1975

Photograph by Ulrike Welsch/Getty Images

Photograph by Ulrike Welsch/Getty Images

I was a feature photographer and generally searched for beautiful moments and scenes, and was not very keen on observing troubles or ­hatred. Needless to say, Boston busing was not one of my favorite photo­journalism moments. It was a tough time for Boston, especially since some sectors of the city were not open to the “forced” busing.

I had to babysit South Boston High School almost daily from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for the Boston Globe in case there was something to cover. I saw shoving, shouting, and stone-throwing…once there was a stabbing. There were policemen on horseback keeping order. On a particularly charged day, I was cornered by a crowd of demonstrators that identified me as a reporter for the Globe. They were pulling on my clothes and camera bag and calling me a ‘nigger lover’ because the Globe was pro-busing. I wasn’t even writing; I was just there daily to take pictures. A reporter rescued me from the mob, and my whole body was trembling. It was one of the most frightening moments of my career.

In spite of all this tension, I made it my personal challenge to show both sides. I went to schools where kids from both races sat next to each other, played well together, consoled each other. It was all very normal and dear. But after school, anti-busing parents were outside protesting. It was sad. I thought it was understandable that African-American parents would want a more balanced and challenging environment for their children, and at the end of it all, a better education.”

—Ulrike Welsch, photographer