On The Line: Where Sacrifice Begins

An Assessment of an Integrated Education long after the bus ride ended.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
75 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


When you think of busing in Boston, chances are it’s about a dark episode in the city’s history that sparks images of violence, intolerance, and racial tension. And while most of the historical spotlight has been on forced busing to desegregate the city’s schools and its legacy, there’s another Boston busing story that is lesser known. This film highlights one of the longest running voluntary school desegregation programs in the country, its’ historical impact on the city of Boston and those personally involved in the program itself.

Featured review

A really great documentary! It's so important to understand the program's history in order to move forward…how it worked and how it did not work.
-Lisa Simmons
President /Founder, The Color of Film Collaborative, Roxbury International Film Festival


The civil rights movement is often taught as a Southern phenomenon. Yet, the struggle for racial justice occurred all over the country, especially in Northern cities. On the heels of the civil rights movement and in contrast to forced busing, METCO was an educational experiment initially conceived by a few “ do-gooders” who sought advancement in education as an offshoot to fair housing & access to better employment.

This film highlights one of the longest running voluntary school desegregation programs in the country, its’ historical impact on the city of Boston and those personally involved in the program itself. On The Line takes a fresh examination of the impact of busing for school integration, the historical and social conditions that launched the METCO program, and the participants who continue to assess the benefits and hardships of crossing racial and class lines on their way to school. The long-term effects for all parties involved are not often adequately studied. Rather, short-term academic and college achievement statistics are emphasized.

The METCO experience is an introduction to a more complex world and On The Line opens the discussion for further insight.


On the Line is an honest and deeply moving exploration of the history, the costs and the benefits of one of our nation's longest-running voluntary school desegregation programs. Informed by the voices of people who lived the experience, this film carries important lessons about how to best break down the constructed barriers between black and white and between urban and suburban families so that everyone can benefit
Susan E. Eaton
Professor of Practice & Director, Brandeis University, Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy,The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
On The Line is a fascinating documentary that should become a part of every high school and university's discussion on our country's path to recovering from formalized racial segregation
Gulienne Rollins-Rishon
CEO / Founder HypheNation – Racial Facilitation & Education
This is a story that speaks of people who voluntarily work and learn together, play together and grow together. Now more than ever our country is at risk of being divided again. This story stands as an example of how we can still come together
Barbara Hamilton
METCO Director, Lexington High School
On The Line should be stored in every museum that embraces this story, through the tumult of persistence of marching through obstacles of color to feed ones intellect and thirst for knowledge in a school system that shared it's vigilance
Charles Walker
Jr., Esq. President of METCO, Inc.
This film depicts the work that's been done and the opportunity for inclusion through education. A testament to the quality of educators who help close the achievement gap and never gave up on any student, regardless of color, class" "Thank you for making the film and keeping the conversation going
Dr. Mary Czajkowski
Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, Lexington, MA

Director Commentary

This film was created to unify what is divided through dialogue.

If we open up the minds of many to broaden their internal understanding of the power of integration and its meaningful potential, then our lives, livelihood and contributions to society as a whole will be greatly expanded for the better.

– Mike Mascoll, OTL Director

Enough has been documented about the continuous plight of race relations in America - It's about time the best non-fiction story be told, spotlighting the impact of many "Do-Gooders" and their commitment to positive social change in America.

It is more crucial than ever to develop and promote working models of educational institutions that approximate the larger society students will someday join. In this regard, On The Line challenges the viewing audience on their own interpretation of "integration" and its' meaning within the existence of their own reality.

The film's central hypothesis is rooted in thought provoking context related to the ultimate interpretation of " educational integration", its' clinical definition vs. the interpretation of those involved in its process.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Director's Commentary
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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