Urban Sights: Urban History and Visual Culture

Buses from nowhere – conclusion

Viewed from one perspective, both Claude Kirk and Irene McCabe were unsuccessful. Busing for school desegregation started in Manatee County and Pontiac, despite their protests. Kirk lost the 1970 gubernatorial election to Reuben Askew and never held elected office again. By the mid-1970s, McCabe was selling real estate in Clarkston, Michigan, 10 miles northwest of Pontiac. Neither Kirk nor McCabe ever received national media attention again. Viewed from another perspective, however, the individual fortunes of Kirk and McCabe are less important than the fact that television news enabled them to push 'busing' as a national issue while separating 'busing' from the historical and legal context for busing orders. Television news coverage of Kirk and McCabe was crucial to establishing a common sense view that, through busing for school desegregation, the rights of parents and homeowners were being violated by activist judges and federal bureaucrats. Television news focused on school desegregation in cities like Bradenton and Pontiac (and later Boston, Cleveland, Louisville and Los Angeles) long enough to capture images of marches, speeches, and fights, but not long enough to detail the structures of racial segregation that led to busing.