2 min readBy Published On: May 15th, 2017Categories: News8 Comments on Wounds of busing reopen with Lehane speech

Dorchester native and author Dennis Lehane gave the commencement speech at Emerson College over the weekend and evidently dropped the n-word.  Yikes.  Granted, Lehane was recalling a moment from his childhood involving one of the most infamous times from this neighborhood.

“In 1975, I was driving with my parents in a car, and we turned a corner into a riot in South Boston on Broadway, at night.

I will never forget this for the rest of my life. We were trapped in the back of a car. We couldn’t move. We could just be buffeted down the street. And they had hung effigies of Arthur Garrity, who was a judge at the time, of Teddy Kennedy, and they were lighting them on fire with torches. And they were screaming, ‘N—s out.’

And that, I can still see the flames going down the back of my father’s car, the reflection of the flames and being trapped in the back of that. So those were the ‘good old days,’ just so you know.”

This part of Lehane’s speech was meant to be a cautionary tale not to glorify the past.

For lifelong residents of South Boston, the nightmare of busing* and the impact on the neighborhood still haunts – especially when brought back to light more than 40 years later.

According to the Boston Globe, Lehane issued a prompt apology after numerous complaints.

“The word is the most offensive word in the English language. To use it in the context of the times in which I was describing was to show exactly how ugly those times were and that particular night was,” Lehane said in a statement.

“If, in an attempt to convey that with absolute authenticity, I managed to offend, then I apologize to those who were offended. Hurting people with the use of that word, of all words, was about as far from my intention as one could get, but I take ownership of the result. I should have known better.

So here were are, 43 years later and old wounds of busing open once again.  A wound that most likely will never fully heal.

*In 1974 a federal court order forced a mandatory desegregation of the Boston public schools via busing students from predominantly white neighborhoods into black neighborhoods and vice versa.  This new legislation provoked protests and riots all over the city and notoriously in South Boston.  


  1. Edward May 16, 2017 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Born in Dorchester, lives in California……..declares that Boston a racist city. Just another person who had a cup of coffee in Southie trying to cash in by throwing Southie and Boston as a whole under the bus so he can make speeches about an experience he had 40 years ago and define an entire city with it. When are we going to stop letting people do this – smh

  2. sunshine May 16, 2017 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Of all the things that he has seen and I’m sure done in his lifetime so far he has to talk about South Boston…… really – I find it so disgusting that half these people that have comments, wrote books, made films etc NEVER lived here NEVER had to come home from White Stadium in a police cruiser because as a cheerleader we were surrounded by “people” that were determined to hurt us….they would yell from the stands things they were going to do to us young girls – someones daughter, sister, niece etc…..as we were being surrounded…..somehow we were ushered to police cruisers but we could see out the little cracks of the back as it was being rocked from side to side what was going on outside – kids parents getting beat up all because they came to the stadium to watch their son play a GAME….and the entire football team ended up coming back to the high school with not a window on the bus and they had their football helments on….where are these stories….. you want to talk about “remembering the past”….We have all made it in life and unfortunetly yes South Boston was and will always be tarnished by this image but MY hometown….has come a long way – its seems to be the place to be now from all the beaches to every inch of living space……. so maybe before people start yapping about things that happened 40 years ago in South Boston they should look into ALL the stories and facts instead of a few they choose to so call remember……

    • Ed May 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply


  3. Eddie Downs May 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    how old is Lehane ?

    Sounds like Bull shit to me. Night time, Broadway, burning, all Bull shit, how old is he?

    • sunshine May 17, 2017 at 10:42 am - Reply

      I think about 50 something….but I agree motorcades in the evening was about all I remember happening at night…..

    • Howie Howland May 17, 2017 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      I agree

  4. Howie Howland May 17, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    The good ole days were just that. Unfortunately, a federal judge destroyed a community and the city of Boston. Seeking a racial balance in the classroom. Which was not the problem. The issue was the funding of black vs white school districts.

    A generation of school children lost because of garrity’s decision. Dennis, yeah the ‘Ñ’ word is despicable. So were the labels used to describe my community. Haters, bigots and racists were used by media and people throughout the country. No one fought for our rights except for us.

    So forgive me for not shedding a tear about your phony story.

  5. Rick May 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Remember, a federal judge from lily white Wellesley. Too bad I missed his funeral, I would have wanted to make sure he was in the box.

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