The town of Lincoln first participated in—and later rejected—this “radical experiment in integration.”

“Why do you want to mix our children with city blacks? We moved here to get away from that element.” So said a resident of Lincoln, Massachusetts. A white resident, needless to say.

Shocking perhaps, but not surprising, even if he did say the quiet part out loud. This tidbit is from 1971, when the town of Lincoln was unable to muster enough students to continue their radical experiment after one year:

Sidetrack created a new world for both of us. A 50-50 world. Its two classes would be roughly 50 percent Black, 50 percent white, 50 percent urban, and 50 percent suburban. Half from what was then the Lewis School, half from the Brooks School in Lincoln. We’d spend half the year in gritty, redlined Roxbury and half the year in bucolic, two-acre-zoned Lincoln, 15 miles away. Even the teachers would be 50-50 — two Black, two white, two male, two female. And the kicker: In Sidetrack we’d spend three half-days a week out of school, exploring the wider world. For an entire school year, we would learn together, explore together, and try to figure out how to live together.

That paragraph comes from a fascinating recent Boston Globe article by Peter Thomson, writing about the 1971 Roxbury-Lincoln experiment. The phrase “both of us” mentioned in the first sentence of the excerpt refers to Peter Thomson, a Lincoln resident back in 1971, and Roberto Fortes, a Roxbury resident at the time and now a retired attorney. (If you’re not a Boston Globe subscriber, the paywall might keep you from reading the article. Send me an email and I’ll see whether I can “gift” you a copy.) Thanks are due to Peter for writing this important and well-illustrated essay, and to the Globe for publishing it.

Categories: Dorchester/Boston, Life, Teaching & Learning