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A Roxbury standard: The Original H-Block

Black History on Roxbury, MA

Melvin B. Miller | 2/7/2013, 12:26 p.m.

After that, it was on to Harvard Law School, from which Bullock graduated in 1907. He paid his way by coaching at Massachusetts Agricultural College, now known as the University of Massachusetts.

Unable to find suitable work in Boston, Bullock took a position both teaching and serving as athletic director at Atlanta Baptist College, now known as Morehouse College. He taught courses in economics, history, Latin and sociology. He later moved to Normal, Ala., when he became dean of The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, today called Alabama A&M University.

Bullock stayed there for two years before returning to Boston, where he was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1917. Community-minded, he served as executive secretary of the Boston Urban League and special assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

He quickly became part of the black society whose comings and goings were reported in the white press. The Boston Daily Globe reported on Oct. 31, 1920 that he and Mrs. Bullock were attending “the Open Door,” a Negro pageant, at Boston Symphony Hall.

The black population in Boston was quickly expanding in those days.

Between 1890 and 1920, the number of blacks grew from 8,125 to 16,350, due largely to northern migration of blacks from the Deep South.

Even though the black population doubled over that 30-year period, blacks constituted only 2.2 percent of the Boston’s population. In all, Boston was the fifth-largest city in the country. But the city had the nation’s 27th largest black population.

In 1920, roughly 45 percent of Boston’s blacks lived in the South End and Roxbury, primarily in Ward 13. Before political redistricting diluted black voting strength, Bullock, a Republican, decided to run for political office.

The 39-year-old Bullock lost a close race for state representative in 1920. He ran again two years later, but this time he won. His first legislative action reflected his racial sensibilities.

The bill was the first of the 1923 General Court legislative session, and described the Ku Klux Klan as a “menace to the public peace,” imposing a fine of $500 or two years in jail or both for anyone caught joining the group or aiding any of its members.