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Louise Day Hicks: Wikis


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Louise Day Hicks, Boston City Council candidate, October 1969

Anna Louise Day Hicks (October 16, 1916 – October 21, 2003) was an American politician and lawyer from Boston, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of William and Anna (née McCarron) Day. Her father was a lawyer and judge and inspired her to become a lawyer at a time when female lawyers were rare. Her mother died when she was 14. In 1942, she married John Hicks, an engineer, and they had two sons. She was elected to the Boston School Committee in 1961. In January 1963, she became chairperson and seemed likely to be endorsed by the leading reform group, when, in June, the Boston chapter of the NAACP demanded "an immediate public acknowledgment of de facto segregation in the Boston public school system." She became even more worried about the school system after her husband died of cancer in 1968.

At the time, 13 city schools were at least 90% black — but the Committee refused to acknowledge the segregation. Hicks was recognized as the holdout; within months she became Boston's most popular politician and the most controversial, requiring police bodyguards 24 hours a day. In 1967, she came within 12,000 votes of being elected Mayor of Boston, running on the evasively coded slogan "You know where I stand." The race against fellow Democrat Kevin White became so acrimonious that the Boston Globe broke an 86-year tradition of political neutrality to endorse White.[1] Hicks later served one term in the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from 1971 to 1973, becoming the first female Democrat to represent Massachusetts in the House. She sought reelection in 1972 but was narrowly defeated in the general election by Joe Moakley, a more liberal Democrat who was running as an Independent.

Hicks became nationally known in 1965 when she opposed court-ordered busing of students into inner-city schools to achieve integration. By refusing to admit segregation existed in city schools and by declaring that children were the "pawns" of racial politics, she came to personify the discord that existed between some working class Irish-Americans and African-Americans. "Boston schools are a scapegoat for those who have failed to solve the housing, economic, and social problems of the black citizen," Hicks said. Her most notable campaign took place in autumn 1975, after a federal judge ordered Boston schools to expand their busing programs to comply with the 1971 Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education decision. To counter the trend, Hicks started an organization called Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR) which actively engaged in incidents of massive resistance to school desegregation. In 1973, she ran for the Boston City Council again and won. In 1976, Hicks was elected the first woman president of the Boston City Council, largely on the strength of ROAR, which was then at its peak. However, she was defeated for reelection in 1977. In 1979, she filled a vacant seat but lost again in 1981. She began to experience health problems and retired from politics after that. She focused on private matters and searching for her son John, who vanished in 1978.

She was a member of the National Organization for Women and, while in Congress, she lobbied for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.[2]

Hicks claimed that while 13 Boston schools were at least 90% "Black," Chinatown schools were 100% Chinese, the North End had schools that were 100% Italian American, and South Boston contained schools that were mostly Irish American. The Boston Public Schools included a conglomerate of ethnic Caucasians with very few WASPs.


  1. ^ John A. Farrell, Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century (Boston: Little Brown & Company, 2001), p. 522
  2. ^ [1]

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United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John W. McCormack
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Joe Moakley

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