At 7:35 a.m. on Monday, April 6, 1970, Governor Claude R. Kirk Jr. strode into an unfamiliar office in Bradenton, a small Gulf Coast town sandwiched between St. Petersburg and Sarasota. The new quarters belonged to the Manatee County superintendent of schools, and the previous occupant, fired by Kirk, was now replaced by the governor himself. Kirk's self-promotion was prompted by Manatee's capitulation to a federal court order mandating immediate busing of schoolchildren with only nine weeks remaining in the academic term. Yet, the governor's conduct also marked a new level of commitment for a county associated since 1954 with a pronounced reluctance to integrate local schools. His "coup" ushered in a week of dramatic tension, including a charged courtroom scene and a darkly comic-but genuinely dangerous-stand-off between Kirk's aides and federal marshals. By the conclusion of the crisis, however, seemingly very little had changed: children still traveled miles to unfamiliar schools; Kirk's withdrawal from the superintendent's office foreshadowed his subsequent defeat for re-election in the following November; and the county, indeed the nation, remained deeply polarized by the seemingly benign symbol of yellow school buses.1
"Voice of the Exploited Majority: Claude Kirk and the 1970 Manatee County Forced Busing Incident,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 83:
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol83/iss3/4