School Busing and Politics

March 1, 1972

Report Outline
National Controversy Over Busing
Background of Busing and Segregation
Effects of and Alternatives to Busing
Special Focus

National Controversy Over Busing

Entry of Busing Issue Into Election-Year Politics

Almost twenty million elementary and high school children—42 per cent of the total—now ride buses to and from school. The vast majority do so because schools are not within walking distance of their homes. Increasing numbers, however, are transported to distant schools because those in their areas are racially segregated. Busing of school children to achieve integration has become politically explosive and is shaping up as the dominant emotional issue in this election year.

A wave of opposition has moved Congress to act on anti-busing measures and open hearings on about 40 proposed constitutional amendments to curb busing as a tool of integration. President Nixon, who has consistently stressed his opposition to “forced busing,” has asked a study group to recommend a course of action. And voters in the presidential primary election in Florida on March 14 will be asked whether they would favor a constitutional amendment, if one were offered, to “prohibit forced busing and guarantee the right of each student to attend the appropriate school nearest his home.”

The ballot question not only has been topic A in the Florida primary but has had a visible impact on national politics. Democratic presidential candidates campaigning in Florida have felt impelled to speak out on busing—perhaps more explicitly than they would have cared to do in other circumstances. Moreover, political commentators have suggested that the straw vote will attract a large turnout of busing foes and boost the candidacy of Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, who has loudly denounced court-ordered busing.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Segregation and Desegregation
Apr. 23, 2004  School Desegregation
Oct. 18, 1996  Rethinking School Integration
Feb. 24, 1995  Housing Discrimination
Dec. 26, 1975  Busing Reappraisal
May 03, 1974  Desegregation After 20 Years
Aug. 24, 1973  Educational Equality
Sep. 06, 1972  Blacks on Campus
Mar. 01, 1972  School Busing and Politics
Aug. 16, 1967  Open Housing
Apr. 29, 1964  School Desegregation: 1954–1964
Feb. 06, 1963  Interracial Housing
Aug. 27, 1958  School Integration: Fifth Year
Jan. 15, 1958  Residential Desegregation
Oct. 16, 1957  Legal Processes in Race Relations
Oct. 17, 1956  Enforcement of School Integration
Jan. 12, 1955  School Desegregation
Sep. 03, 1954  Segregation in Churches
Oct. 08, 1952  Race Segregation
Nov. 07, 1947  Negro Segregation
Civil Rights: African Americans
Elementary and Secondary Education
Segregation and Desegregation