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“A Boycott Solves Nothing”
Caption: This New York Times editorial was published a few days before the February 3, 1954 boycott. It captures one example of white, liberal New Yorkers’ resistance to desegregation.Read plain text of document
The New York Times’ editorial board published this editorial a few days before the first 1964 school boycott.
Newspapers write editorials like this one to inform their readers of important issues that they think readers should know the paper’s opinion on. As you read the editorial, consider how the NYT describes the protestors, the role of the Board of Education, the causes of segregated schools in New York, and why the NYT chose to write this editorial.
The New York Times is a historically white newspaper - meaning that it was founded by white people, and it imagined most of its readers to be white. It was a very influential newspaper, both in New York City and nationally. In keeping with its identity as a liberal newspaper, the NYT was critical of segregation and racism in the Jim Crow South. Yet in this period it was much less willing to criticize racism in the North.
On the day of the boycott, the New York Times printed another editorial, this one calling the boycott “tragically misguided” and “pointless.” The editorial implied, without evidence, that it was likely that there would be violence in connection with the boycott. The editorial portrayed the Board of Education as “responsible” in their efforts to desegregate, as compared to the boycotters who were disrupting the system and demanding something “impossible.”1
“No More School Boycotts," New York Times, February 3, 1964. ↩︎
Creator: New York Times
Source: New York Times
Copyright: New York Times
How to cite: “A Boycott Solves Nothing,” in New York City Civil Rights History Project, Accessed: [Month Day, Year], https://nyccivilrightshistory.org/topics/boycotting-ny-schools/white-liberal-resistance/a-boycott-solves-nothing.
- What words and phrases does the New York Times use to describe civil rights activists and Black and Latinx parents and children? What words and phrases does the New York Times use to describe the mayor and the Board of Education?
- Who or what does the New York Times believe is causing segregation in New York, or interfering with desegregation?
- What does the NYT believe that Black and Puerto Rican parents and children should do to improve education? How does this editorial in the New York Times compare to the coverage of the boycott by the Amsterdam News? [link to that document set here]
- What effect do you think this NYT editorial had? Consider who reads the NYT and how many people read it.