The History of Race in Boston
The Legacy of Busing

GUEST LECTURERS:  Margaret McKenna, Charlie Titus, Dr. Atyia Martin

Margaret A. McKenna, president of Suffolk University in Boston, is an educator and lawyer who has spent her career advocating for social justice. She was appointed Suffolk’s 10th president in 2015, the first woman to lead the University. McKenna began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Later in her career she served as the deputy counsel in the White House and as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and she led the education transition team for President Clinton. McKenna’s experience in higher education includes serving as vice president of Radcliffe College, as president of Lesley University for 22 years, and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

Charlie Titus currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation, Special Projects, and Intramurals at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Since coming to UMass, Titus has worn many hats, including serving as the university’s first and only head coach of men’s basketball. He has served on several committees both at the university level and in college athletics. A Boston-area native, Titus grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts and attended Boston Technical High School before attending Saint Michael’s College.

Dr. S. Atyia Martin was appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh as the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Boston as part of the 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by the Rockefeller foundation. She is also adjunct faculty at Northeastern University in the Master of Homeland Security program. Previously, Dr. Martin was the Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). Her previous professional experience includes the Boston Police Department’s Boston Regional Intelligence Center; City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management; the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); and active duty Air Force assigned to the National Security Agency.


We were then introduced to our panel. Charlie Titus was a strong proponent of busing as a way to integrate the schools and improve minority education in Boston in the 1970s, riding on the buses with Black students to try and maintain calm in the face of the violence that often greeted them. Margaret McKenna was a young Civil Rights attorney in the Department of Justice; at that time, DOJ didn’t permit local Federal prosecutors to work on civil rights cases, because they were “locals,” and thus not trusted to prosecute them vigorously. Atyia Martin is a native Bostonian and is currently the City’s Chief Resilience Officer; the Resilience Office is funded through a grant from the Ford Foundation as part of their “100 Resilient Cities” project, and Boston’s grant was approved in part due to its focus on resilience in the face of racial conflict. Keep Reading.




“Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families.” J. Anthony Lukas. 1985.

Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, and Busing by Farah Stockman

How a Standoff over Schools Changed the Country by Farah Stockman

Did Busing Slow Boston’s Desegregation? by Farah Stockman