Busing and the broader question of what courts and communities should do to create integrated schools has been back in the news after a tense exchange between U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden during the Democratic debates.
Biden strongly opposed efforts by the courts to integrate schools in communities that had not previously had mandatory segregation. Harris rode a bus as a little girl as part of local school integration.
The Denver district used busing to create integrated schools under a court-ordered desegregation plan from 1974 to 1995. As in other parts of the country, some people violently opposed the idea. In February 1970, a few months after eight families had filed a lawsuit alleging their children did not have access to an equal education in their segregated schools in northeast Denver, a series of explosions destroyed a third of the district’s bus fleet. No one was ever charged. Later that month, a pipe bomb blew up on the front porch of the Keyes family, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Many historians argue that busing as a way to desegregate schools failed largely due to opposition from white families, even as it offered important educational opportunities to black students, something backed up by research. After busing ended, Denver schools returned to being largely segregated, a problem the district struggles with to this day.
If you were a student, a parent, or a teacher during the more than two decades that Denver relied on crosstown transportation to keep schools integrated, we’d love to hear about your experiences and how you think they shaped your life.
Please take a few minutes to complete our survey. We’ll publish a selection of responses.