The Brookline Rotary will be hosting a panel discussion on race and social justice in Brookline tonight, January 28, at 6 PM. The panel will address the subject of segregation in Brookline, as it existed after the civil rights laws were passed in the 1960s, as reflected in the film “Facing Civil Rights,” and issues of race and inequity that exist today in Brookline and beyond. As a preliminary to the discussion, this publication published an editorial by panelist and BHS METCO Coordinator Malcolm Cawthorne,
Malcolm Cawthorne, BHS teacher and Brookline METCO coordinator
Paul Epstein, BHS social worker and founder of the Brookline Teen Center
Bobbie Knable, dean of students at Tufts University (1980-2000), past and present member of several Brookline Committees, and featured in “Brookline, Facing Civil Rights”
Rob Daves, Town meeting member, BCF trustee, MLK Day Celebration Committee
“Facing Civil Rights” was first screened as part of Brookline’s 2019 MLK Day Celebration at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. On January 9, 2020, the film screened at the Coolidge, with all proceeds going to the Brookline Fund Pantry. The sold-out evening included an audience/panel discussion on the state of inclusivity today moderated by Paris Alston, producer of WBUR’s Radio Boston. Those who stream the film will also receive the video recording audience/panel discussion from that evening.
“Brookline, Facing Civil Rights” is based on interviews with six Brookline residents who describe their experiences during the civil rights movement and what it was like for African Americans to move to a segregated Brookline during the 1960s. Also interviewed, Gov. Michael Dukakis paints an unvarnished picture of Brookline’s racial and religious climate during this turbulent period.
Testimony from the film aims at, among other things, Brookline’s discriminatory housing practices, which Dukakis investigated at the time. “Brookline, like the country, was racist,” Dukakis said in the film, “People of color had virtually nothing in this town. They didn’t live here; they weren’t welcomed … I mean, this town was just shut off to people of color.”
Also featured in “Facing Civil Rights”:
Ruth Ellen Fitch, Brookline’s first METCO director and the first black female to become a partner in a Boston law firm
Bobbie Knable, Dean of Students at Tufts from 1980 to 2000
Julia Wilson, wife of the renowned artist, John Wilson