Learning Liberalism: Seattle Schools and the Changing Face of American Racial Politics, 1960-1980
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This dissertation compares and contrasts the two major anti-busing movements in Seattle, Washington, the first in the early 1970s and the second in the late 1970s. Opposition to busing was fierce and unrelenting, excepting physical violence, opponents tried every available tool at their disposal from a vitriolic School Board recall campaign to lawsuits questioning the legal standing of the policy to ballot initiatives. The politics of mandatory desegregation also revealed complex, cross-racial opposition to and insecurities about class, changing gender and family norms, and perceived and real threats to neighborhood cohesiveness. Seattle's stagnant, acerbic race relations coexisted with rapid shifts in liberal discourse. By 1978, when publicly addressing social issues such as education or low-income housing, conservatives and liberals gained political capital by appearing sensitive to race. I argue that busing was a formative policy, which influenced 1970s liberal ideologies and identities as much as it shaped conservatism in the period. Furthermore, Seattle's cross-party endorsement of the 1978 busing program demonstrates that American politics in the period were not clearly rightward bound. When seen as politically expedient and economically beneficial, Republicans and Democrats alike publicly embraced racial liberalism.
- History