Why did people ROAR?

Selections from the pamphlet from the First National R.O.A.R. Convention

Selection from the First ROAR National Convention Pamphlet. The left page from Charlestown's ROAR organization "Power Keg" depicts the energy behind ROAR's efforts to stop forced busing.

"The Evils of Busing"

The largest issue that ROAR addressed was the use of busing to desegregate Boston Public Schools during the mid-1970s. As a response to the Racial Imbalance Act, ROAR members usually maintained that busing children served as the ultimate problem in Boston; they insisted that other problems in Boston occurred as direct results of “forced busing” of students. ROAR members held to their firm beliefs in upholding a traditional “American way of life” that they had grown accustomed to living. ROAR members held that busing was truly evil and no good would come from busing or mixing neighborhoods.

Selections from <em>The Boston News Digest</em>, May 1976

"Handguns and Self Protection" article selected from the May 1976 issue of "The Boston News Digest". The newspaper served as the official ROAR Boston newspaper in 1976.

For the rights of American citizens

ROAR members described themselves as protectors of the inalienable rights of established American citizens. These rights included more local rights such as choosing where to send their kids to school and what to teach children in schools. ROAR championed constitutional rights for individuals as well; they were especially vocal in protecting controversial rights such as gun control and challenging other rights, such as free speech. ROAR advocated the protection of the rights of citizens by holding rallies and marches; but they saw particular success with printed material such as brochures on fighting sex-education and newspaper articles on gun control and safety.

 

Racism?

As the loudest voice against busing in Boston, ROAR served as the image of mass racism within Boston, especially in South Boston. Louise Day Hicks and other leaders of ROAR continuously denied that ROAR served a racist agenda; however, people did not believe them, and soon after the organization began, people called for an investigation on the organization.

In October of 1974, the Weather Underground Organization, an American radical left-wing organization active in the 1970s, conducted an investigation of ROAR, secretly attending numerous meetings to determine the organization’s agenda. WUO claimed to find numerous instances of racism by ROAR.

The investigation included notes on ROAR, claiming that, “ROAR organizes women by convincing white mothers that protecting their children means protecting them from contact with Black men” and “ROAR also twists women’s real fear of rape into fear and hatred for Black men.” [1] People within ROAR also addressed the issue of racism within their own group. As one right-hand man of Pixie Palladino told the Boston Globe, "“…But the more ROAR and Information Center meetings I attended, I saw they were really against blacks, and I don’t want to be part of a racist organization.” [2]

ROAR members continuously argued against racist allegations on them, causing for tensions between ROAR and pro-busing organizations on more than just the busing issue.

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References

[1] Weather Underground Organization. "The Battle of Boston: An Investigation on ROAR." 1974. Citywide Educational Coalition Records, 1972-2001. Box 7, Folder 12. Northeastern University Archives & Special Collections, Northeastern University Library, Boston, MA. March 2016.

[2]Formisano, Ronald O. Boston Against Busing. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991., 128.

 

Why did people ROAR?