Public Schools: The Spreading Boycott

"A fizzle!" scoffed James B. Donovan, president of New York City's Board of Education. "A whoopee success!" cried a Negro leader. Such were the wildly opposing verdicts last week as almost half of New York's 1,000,000 public-school children—464,362, to be exact—stayed home during a one-day boycott protesting de facto segregated schools. Allowing for hooky players and the normal 100,000 absentee rate, it was still the biggest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history.

But what did it gain? Can such huge protests really improve Negro education? What are the prospects for new boycotts in other Northern cities?

Rising Offensive. By short-term accounting,...

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