A Word About Busing From Someone Who Was There

Louisville once did busing (ONE goddamned ‘s’, you philistines) in the mid 1970s. My main objection to it was based on the observation that gas had just jumped from around 35 cents a gallon to around 65 cents in a fairly short time. This was a pretty wasteful use of natural resources, to say the least. I was 12 years old at the time.

This is how busing worked in Louisville. You got picked based on your birthday, kind of like they picked who got to go to Vietnam. That year, you had to get up at some ungodly hour in the morning to catch your bus because the school you were being bused to was on the other side of the city. If you were white, all you had to do was just that one year, kind of like doing jury duty. That’s how my brother spent fifth grade. I lucked out because my year was third grade, and I was well past that.

Now, if you were one of those people of color on the other side of town, well, you were boned as usual. You see, there aren’t enough black kids in Louisville to make this come out even, so they got bused to the east end something like three years out of four.

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Now say you want to do extracurricular activities, like football. Uh, forget about it. You don’t have time to practice *and* do your homework *and* get bused across town. Plus, that wasn’t your neighborhood school. It might be your crosstown rival, and you’re not playing for them. Hell no.

Needless to say, nobody liked it, not even the African American community. In the white neighborhoods, you had the quite predictable reaction with demonstrators every day in front of every school, which moved across the street after the cops told them to move. Sometimes they would burn old tires, until the fire department told them to knock it off. I don’t remember it getting violent or anything, but it was still plenty ugly.

Eventually, busing went away, and the more well-off Southern Baptists could stop going to the Catholic high schools. Nothing changed, schools actually got worse during the busing years, from what I read in the paper. That could be propaganda, but I kind of doubt it.

So yeah, I can see how VP Biden would think it was a dumb idea because it was. 

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