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Civil rights activist Ted Landsmark reflects on Boston’s reputation for racism—and how the city has and hasn’t changed

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Civil rights activist Ted Landsmark stands outside Boston City Hall in the spot where anti-busing demonstrators attacked him in 1976.

WBUR, July 2023

This week, delegates from across the country will gather for the NAACP national convention. Touted by its organizers as a celebration of the Black community’s collective power, the annual event is taking place in Boston, a city with a racist reputation.

Long-time civil rights activist Ted Landsmark occupies a key spot in the story of how Boston earned that reputation. In 1976, amid the uproar in Boston over court-ordered school desegregation, the young Black lawyer inadvertently crossed paths with a group of white teenage protesters near City Hall.

“I was on my way to an affirmative action meeting with city officials to try to open more jobs for people of color and minority contractors in the city of Boston,” Landsmark says. “I was attacked by a group of anti-busing demonstrators. And that moment was captured in a famous photograph where a young person was trying to kill me with the American flag.”

Read more at WBUR.

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