ROAR: The Anti-Busing group with the Loudest Voice
Every historical event has numerous perspectives and opinions; however, the perspective with the loudest voice often gains the most attention. In the case of the historical event known as “forced busing” in Boston, those with the loudest voices seemed to be the citizen groups. The group with the loudest voice was arguably the most militant, radically conservative, and most popular anti-busing group during this time: ROAR.
An acronym for Restore Our Alienated Rights, ROAR was a conservative group that fiercely protested the federally-mandated order to integrate Boston Public Schools. Opposed to what they dubbed the “forced busing” of Boston's public school students, the group staged formal, sometimes violent protests and remained active from 1974 until 1976.
ROAR began as a small, informal gathering of opinionated people--mostly women--who wanted to voice their concerns about busing. Over time, their force grew. They shouted that their rights as parents were being taken away because of the efforts to correct the racial imbalance of Boston Public Schools by busing students to other school districts. Within only a few months, under the leadership of Louise Day Hicks, ROAR rapidly grew into the fiercest, loudest anti-busing group. Modeling the the tactics of early civil rights activists, ROAR maintained they were the only voice that spoke for the rights of children and concerned the parents.
ROAR ended within two years of its creation; however, despite its short lifespan, it is the most-remembered anti-busing organization both during and beyond the Boston busing movement.
This exhibit explores the anti-busing organization ROAR by presenting the group in small, manageable sections so that readers may better understand this anti-busing group. Although this radical conservative group no longer exists, the legacy it left behind remains alive in the United States. History repeats itself, and through learning about this group, you might be able to apply the message to the present.
Content for this exhibit was written by Rachel Sherman, a graduate student in the Public History Program (History MA) at UMass Boston. Exhibited items appear courtesy of the Boston City Archives and the Northeastern University Archives & Special Collections.