Globe Omits Reading’s Racist History vs. Bill Russell

The racist elements of Reading, Mass. are at it again, as the Boston Globe’s Cristela Guerra reported on Page One yesterday.

Reading’s new struggle with an old evil

More than 30 incidents of racist, anti-Semitic graffiti have been reported since May 2017, school officials say

READING — Nearly every day, teachers at Reading Memorial High School scan their classrooms carefully, sweeping their eyes across floors and furniture — in search of swastikas.

In this school of more than 1,200 students, the Nazi symbol and other racist graffiti have become a haunting presence, surfacing again and again, defacing bathroom stalls and stairwells, scrawled on bench legs, carved into railings around the high school.


But the Globe piece on the “old evil” overlooked the evilest incident of racism in Reading’s history: The vile attacks on Celtics great Bill Russell when he lived there during the 1950s.

From the Globe’s own Adam Himmelsbach’s 2017 piece Why was Boston Garden nearly empty when Bill Russell’s number was retired in 1972?

After Russell joined the Celtics in 1956, he became the city’s first black star athlete. Although he emerged as a sports icon, his status made him a more visible target. His home in the mostly white suburb of Reading was once broken into and vandalized, with a racial epithet spray-painted on the walls.


For some reason, Himmelsbach left out the worst part: The vandals also defecated on Russell’s bed.

Memo to Boston Globe and Boston Herald editors: When covering the Reading disgrace, remember Bill Russell.

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