The Harvest: Reading Circles

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO SHOWED UP IN THE RAIN on Indigenous Peoples Day for the first Reading Circle! See below for the next circle’s readings.

School Desegregation North and South:

Educational Equity and Excellence for All Public School Children. Is it attainable?

Three Reading Circles—in conjunction with MassHumanities
Join us for 1, 2, or all 3

Monday, October 9, 2017, 2:00-3:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 19, 2017, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 28, 2017, 2-3:30 p.m.

110 N. Hillside Rd, South Deerfield (in the Deerfield Business Center building)

Sponsored by Racial Justice Rising & Visioning B.E.A.R. Circle Intertribal Council

Facilitator: Mel Ptacek, PhD

See below for readings suggested.


Screening and discussion of The Harvest, a new documentary film about one Southern town’s experience with public school desegregation, will be held:

7:00-9:00 PM, Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hibernian Hall, Roxbury

Open to the public free of charge. Simply register online.

The Harvest, co-produced by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist/historian Douglas Blackmon and award-winning documentary filmmaker Sam Pollard, is scheduled for release in late 2018/early 2019. The film explores the legacy of public school integration in Blackmon’s home town of Leland, Mississippi. Learn more about the film.

As a springboard for discussion, short readings on the history of desegregation and its aftermath in the United States are suggested for each reading circle. Read (or view) as you wish. The reading circles are intended as discussions rather than lectures or seminars. All are welcome.

Readings for the second circle (upcoming): As before, read as you wish (each reading is generally short). This is a discussion of issues. As framework for our discussion, please think about the following: 

Reflecting on the readings, our current political and cultural climate, and our discussion from the first circle if you were there, think about what it would be like if we were to be successful at reaching equity and excellence for all public school students. Let’s also think about what are one or two things we can do separately or together to work toward that goal in our local communities, across the state, and even across the nation.

Strapped for time? Concentrate on some of the first readings (Boston After Busing & Whitey Bulger, Boston Busing, and Southie’s Lost Generation). 

Thinking most about how to address the issue of current inequities in education? Concentrate on the project report (last reading).

Interested in the data? Concentrate on the looking through the information on the following website: 

Participants at the first reading circle wanted to see information about our local communities’ integration. See interesting school-level data here:

Prefer audio? I mentioned an interesting interview on This American Life (NPR) that some may wish to listen to in addition to or instead of doing the readings. Check it out here:


Boston After Busing

Farah Stockman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series of columns examining race and education.  READ

August 27, 2015 “Sex, drugs, and racist policing in Rutland, VT”

September 7, 2015 “How the busing crisis changed police, for the better”

November 15, 2015 “The outcast effect”

December 17, 2015 “90% Hispanic? No hay problema”

December 20, 2015 “How a standoff over schools changed the country”

December 27, 2015 “Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, and the echoes of busing”

Whitey Bulger, Boston Busing, and Southie’s Lost Generation

Michael Patrick Macdonald’s commentary on Boston’s busing forty years later written for the Schuster Institute at Brandeis University.  READ

Boston Busing/Desegregation Project Report

Key findings from data collection to date prepared by Union of Minority Neighborhoods  READ (PDF)

Readings for the first reading circle (October 9th): THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED! 

Racial Discrimination in Public Schools: A Historical Timeline

A timeline of events. Sourced from Story of American Public Education, Master Timeline, PBS; and Teaching Tolerance. READ (pdf)

Boston After Busing

Farah Stockman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series of columns examining race and education.  READ

August 2, 2015 “Naming our era of racial contradictions”
August 9, 2015 “Did busing slow the city’s desegregation?”
July 5, 2015 “Boston schools get a do-over”
October 11, 2015 “In schools, can separate be equal?”

In addition, Sonia Lowman’s documentary Teach Us All debuts on Netflix and in select cinemas around the country in late September. View the official trailer and poster here: 

You may also click below:


For more information, please contact RJR at or Mel (circle facilitator) at