Students discuss Boston’s racial history with busing icon

Landsmark_GlobeBy Boston Globe

The eighth-graders had seen the famous photograph, the one of a black man being assaulted by an anti-busing protester wielding an American flag.

But that moment in 1976 was just one of many painful chapters they had studied in a civics class on America’s history of segregation and racism.

Then on Friday, the students came face to face with Theodore C. Landsmark, who became an icon of Boston’s busing crisis when he was captured in that photograph nearly three decades before they were born. His visit to the John W. McCormack Middle School in Dorchester touched off a discussion about the past that was by turns lofty and visceral.

“How did you feel when you were hit with the flag?” asked Alanna Perez, 14.

Landsmark told the students that he was stunned.

“The whole event happened so fast – 7 seconds,” he said. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, this is weird,’ because there I was standing in the middle of City Hall Plaza and my nose was broken, and when your nose is broken, you get a lot of blood.’” He said he began to realize that he had been involved in a significant event when a reporter approached and asked for his name.

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