Kevin White

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“Martin Luther King loved this city, and it’s up to our generation to prove his faith in us.”

Kevin White’s obituary provides a short course in local history. His tenure (1968-1984) saw the development of, for example, Quincy Market.

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It also included one of Boston’s most painful episodes, the busing crisis.

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His obituary taught us the vocabulary astuteinquisitiverigmarolebureaucraticrescind, and aspiration. (It also left me struggling to explain satisfactorily what a “Boston Brahmin” was.)

With the holiday Monday, we discussed Martin Luther King’s connection to Boston, as well as how, and why, our classroom would have looked differently before the city’s desegregation of schools.

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And then we watched the beginning* of the concert below. Now known as “the night James Brown saved Boston,” it features a short speech by Mayor White, four months into the job.

*We only had time for the first two songs, alas. I don’t think any of the students had seen James Brown perform before; most didn’t recognize his name (although everyone knew “I Feel Good”). Teacher tip: if you want your kids to leave class in a better mood, end with a James Brown gig.