1972 Dearborn Resists Integrative Bussing

For years after Brown V Board of Education was passed, schools remained segregated. While the process of school desegregation in the Jim Crow south is well known, school desegregation in the north was equally fraught. For the most part, the process of desegregating school districts was left up to individual districts and regions. In Metro Detroit, school desegregation meant bussing Black students from Detroit into the suburbs, and white students from the suburbs into Detroit. In 1970, the NAACP sued the state of Michigan to desegregate the Detroit Public Schools. In ruling on the case, Judge Stephen Roth indicated that desegregating public schools was the responsibility of all levels of government, and that the government could not legally enforce district boundaries along district boundaries that were designed exploitatively. Racial segregation in the Detroit metro region was even more stark than it is today, with only 13 Black residents in a city of over 100,000 according to the 1970 census.

Roth's plan called for 3,061 Dearborn elementary aged students to be bused into Detroit, and 2,406 Detroit elementary aged students to be bused into Dearborn. The plan would be expanded to include middle school and high school students if it was deemed necessary.

The plan was set to take effect at the beginning of the 1970-1971 school year.

The plan met with strong opposition across the region. In Dearborn, white families and individuals protested the bussing plans, rallied Irene McCabe and her walk to Washington to protest bussing integration programs throughout the region.

Violent opposition to the school bussing programs also erupted, when the KKK used dynamite to destroy busses that were intended to be used to integrate Pontiac Schools with neighboring districts.

Opposition to integrative bussing resulted in a temporary halt to the program, which was then solidified by the 1974 Michigan Supreme Court decision Milliken Vs Bradley. This ruling determined that federal courts, "could not impose a multidistrict, area-wide remedy upon local districts in the absence of any evidence those districts committed acts causing racial discrimination." .