Mandatory busing of Seattle middle school students begins on September 6, 1972.

  • By Cassandra Tate
  • Posted 9/05/2002
  • Essay 3942
See Additional Media

On September 6, 1972 -- the first day of the new school year -- the Seattle School District implements a mandatory busing plan to achieve racial balance in selected middle schools.

Initially, the plan involved about 1,200 middle school students, who were bused away from their neighborhoods in order to integrate one school in the predominately black Central Area and three in the predominately white North End. About half the students had volunteered for the ride; the rest were mandatory transfers.

The Seattle School Board had adopted the plan on November 11, 1970. The next day, an anti-busing group called Citizens Against Mandatory Busing filed a lawsuit asking that the board be enjoined from reassigning students out of neighborhood schools without parental permission. Superior Court Judge William J. Wilkins, ruling in favor of the group, ordered that implementation be delayed for at least one year. His decision was overturned by the State Supreme Court in April 1972, clearing the way for the district's first use of mandatory busing for desegregation.

School officials later said they thought the delay might have been beneficial, giving staff, students, and neighborhoods a chance to have a "shake down" before putting the plan into effect (The Seattle Times).


Constantine Angelos, "School Desegregation Will Start Rolling Wednesday," The Seattle Times, September 3, 1972, p. A-8; Laura Kohn, Priority Shift: The Fate of Mandatory Busing for School Desegregation in Seattle and the Nation (Seattle: Institute for Public Policy and Management, Program on Re-inventing Public Education, University of Washington, 1996).

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You