Bus­ing in 1970s was a last re­sort

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - PERSPECTIV­E -

Eric Zorn’s col­umn (“Say it was so, Joe! Bi­den was right to op­pose bus­ing in the ’70s,” July 3) on Joe Bi­den’s em­brace of anti-bus­ing pol­i­tics in the 1970s misses some im­por­tant con­text.

Fed­eral courts is­sued bus­ing de­crees not be­cause they wished to im­pose pain or in­con­ve­nience on school-age kids, but be­cause school de­seg­re­ga­tion was the law of the land un­der Brown v. the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. Courts tried other meth­ods short of bus­ing, but be­cause of other in­tractable so­cial is­sues, they were not equal to the task of in­te­gra­tion. Bus­ing was a last re­sort and thought to be a short-term solution un­til fair hous­ing and other ini­tia­tives caught up, which de­press­ingly never hap­pened.

The politi­cians who fought bus­ing were pri­mar­ily op­posed — or at best, in­dif­fer­ent — to the en­tire mis­sion of racial in­te­gra­tion, and were try­ing to de­rail the courts. That’s why Sen. Bi­den throw­ing in with the South­ern Democrats at the time was, and re­mains, so ap­palling.

— Paul W. Mol­lica, Chicago

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