"We're going to have one of the greatest marches tomorrow that has ever taken place in the United States," the Rev. Martin Luther King told cheering crowds in Roxbury yesterday afternoon.
King arrived in the Hub yesterday morning to lead the march on Boston, which is expected to draw between 30,000 and 50,000 demonstrators. The marchers will leave the Carter Playground, Camden St. and Columbus Ave. in Roxbury, at 9:30 a.m. and walk to the Boston Common, where a mass rally is scheduled for 2 p.m.
King began his visit with a brief courtesy call on Gov. John A. Volpe, whom he praised for "your great support in the struggle for civil rights." King then went on a three-hour tour of Roxbury.
He returned to the State House late in the afternoon to address a joint session of the Massachusetts legislature. He urged the legislature to "go all out to aid those communities which are seriously trying to grapple with the problem of de facto segregation."
At a press conference earlier in the day, King termed the recent Kiernan report on de facto segregation in Massachusetts schools "excellent" and called for the implementation of one of the report's they recommendations: a state law requiring local boards of education to eliminate racial imbalance in public schools.
In Roxbury, King's 20-car motorcade, complete with state police motorcycle escort, stopped at two schools and an apartment house.
At each stop, about 200 residents--most of them children--greeted King wildly. At each stop, the heads of local parents' groups described efforts to combat school segregation or housing code violations. And at each stop, King warned the crowd that local problems must be solved by local organizations.
"I will do whatever I can to lend you by moral support and my physical support, with my presence and my body and my soul," King said from the steps of the W. L. Boardman School.
"If we clean up the South, will you clean up the North?" asked the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, vice-president-at-large of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who accompanied King at the tour.
At the Patrick T. Campbell School, Mrs. Edna Pezzolezi, an officer of PUSH ("Parents United to end Schools Hoax"), said her group had complained to the principal of the school about the quality of education there. "He told us that it didn't matter, that these children weren't doing anywhere anyway," she said.
Calling for militant non-violent direct action "to bring these problems out in the open," King said that Negroes should not tolerate less than "quality, integrated education across the board."