A Neighborhood Conversation on Racism in Boston

WED, NOV 1, 2017

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Farah Stockman hosts a conversation in Roxbury's historic Hibernian Hall to celebrate the culmination of weeks of neighborhood readings on the historic busing crisis that ripped Boston apart in the 1970s. An upcoming film, The Harvest, co-produced by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist/historian Douglas Blackmon and award-winning documentary filmmaker Sam Pollard is the impetus for the conversation. Portions of the film inform the conversation.

The discussion, moderated by Stockman, includes two former residents of Boston: Michael Patrick MacDonald, who grew up in South Boston’s Old Colony housing project during the 1970s busing crisis, and Cheryl Harris, who grew up in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston and experienced the social and political upheaval first-hand as a young mother.

The film explores the legacy of public school integration in Blackmon’s hometown of Leland, Mississippi. This Roxbury conversation will find the parallels in the Boston busing crisis and Boston's ongoing issues of system racism.

+ BIO: Douglas Blackmon

Over the past 20 years, Douglas A. Blackmon has written extensively about the American quandary of race, exploring the integration of schools during his childhood in a Mississippi Delta farm town, lost episodes of the Civil Rights movement, and, repeatedly, the dilemma of how a contemporary society should grapple with a troubled past. Many of his stories in The Wall Street Journal have explored the interplay of wealth, corporate conduct and racial segregation.

In 2000, the National Association of Black Journalists recognized Blackmons stories revealing the secret role of J.P. Morgan & Co. during the 1960s in funneling funds between a wealthy northern white supremacist and segregationists fighting the Civil Rights Movement in the South. A year later, he revealed in the Journal how U.S. Steel Corp. relied on forced black laborers in Alabama coal mines in the early 20th century, an article which led to his first book, Slavery By Another Name, which broadly examines how a form of neoslavery thrived in the U.S. long after legal abolition.

Blackmon joined the Journal in October 1995 as a reporter in Atlanta. Prior to joining the Journal, Blackmon was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he covered race and politics, and special assignments including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Previously, he was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat, managing editor of the Daily Record in Little Rock, Ark, and a writer for weekly newspapers. Blackmon penned his first newspaper story at the age of 12, for the Progress, in his hometown of Leland, Mississippi. He graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.

+ BIO: Cheryl Harris

Cheryl Harris grew up in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston and is now senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Attleboro and CEO of the consulting firm Cheryl Harris and Associates, Inc.

+ BIO: Michael Patrick MacDonald

Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in South Boston's Old Colony housing project. After losing four siblings and seeing his generation decimated by poverty, crime, and addiction, he became a leading Boston activist, helping launch many antiviolence initiatives, including gun-buyback programs. He continues to work for social change nationally, collaborating with survivor families and young people.

MacDonald won the American Book Award in 2000. His national bestseller, All Souls, and his follow-up, Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion have been adopted by university curriculums across the country. MacDonald has written numerous essays for The Boston Globe Op-Ed Page and has completed the screenplay of All Souls for director Ron Shelton. He is currently Author-in-Residence at Northeastern University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

+ BIO: Farah Stockman

Farah Stockman is a former columnist for The Boston Globe and now writes for The New York Times. She is the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her series of columns examining the legacy of public school desegregation in Boston.

Partner
Mass Humanities
Series
Boston Talks About Racism