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Joseph Rakes Attacked Stanley Landsmark With American Flag


The 1954 Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education determined that segregated schools were “unconstitutional”. Public Schools throughout the South were forced to integrate and accept diversity.

Southern Protestants eventually accepted these rules and allowed black children to attend their schools. (For example, just watch Remember the Titans…)

However, the North stayed largely segregated because of housing patterns. Since races typically lived in separate communities, each group had their own public schools and they remained separate.

In the 1950s though, Federal judges introduced “busing” programs to transport black children and “integrate” these schools.

On April 5th of 1976, an angry crowd of high school students from Boston’s Irish Catholic neighborhoods marched on Boston’s City Hall to protest the busing program.

One of those students, Joseph Rakes, was a seventeen year old from a large Catholic family on Boston’s South side.

Later, Joseph Rakes said:

You can’t have half your friends – that’s the way it was put towards us. They took half the guys and girls I grew up with and said, “You’re going to school on the other side of town.” Nobody understood it at (age) fifteen.”

Rakes led the march on Boston’s City Hall, carrying an American flag. He later explained:

“I was too angry with everybody. I didn’t like anybody. I didn’t care for anybody. I took care of my family, I watched out for my brothers and sisters and my relatives and my friends. We all watched out for each other. My parents kind of raised us to be pit bulls. People in Southie sent their kids out there and said “go get ’em”.


Eventually, a black lawyer named Stanley Landsmark confronted the group. Rakes responded by attacking Landsmark with the American flag.

The picture of this confrontation is famously known as “The Soiling of Old Glory” and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977.

Rakes claimed “the picture – it says what it says, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. You know, there’s nothing I can do about it. I just move on in my life.”

Eventually, Rakes was convicted for assault with a deadly weapon and given a two-year suspended sentence.

In 1983, he was wanted for the murder of a man who had taken advantage of his sister. He was a fugitive for five years, eventually turned himself in, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

In “Liberty and Freedom”, David Hackett Fischer examines Rakes’ legacy:

“He pulled his life together, married the woman he loved raised a family, moved to a coastal town north of Boston, and held a job on the Big Dig. He kept the flag and still believes in liberty from busing and freedom for South Boston.”

Jett & Jahn Media honors American Hero Joseph Rakes for his bravery and courage.

Joseph Rakes proves that Northern Catholics are often more eager and willing to stand up and fight “integration” than any Southern Protestants.

Therefore, we are the true American heroes…


This article is the conclusion of the “American Heroes” series:

Introduction: JnJ Presents “American Heroes” Series
Ty Cobb
James Wilson
John Rankin
General Patton
Jesse Helms
George Wallace
John Rocker
Ted Nugent
Joseph Rakes

© 2013 Jett and Jahn Media. All Rights Reserved.