How did people ROAR?

Borrowing from History


Clipping of a newspaper article about ROAR's "March on Washington" in March 1975. The article states that ROAR marched to demand a constitutional amendment to block school busing. Clipping part of the Louise Day Hicks Papers, Boston City Archives.

ROAR used numerous tactics to speak out against anti-busing and to protect the rights of parents in Boston. Borrowing from anti-war protestors of the 1960s, ROAR members went on the streets with signs stating their point, usually picketing at the local schools. ROAR members also boycotted busing by keeping their children at home on school days and calling others to do the same.

Other semi-conventional forms of protest were also popular among ROAR members as a form of protest. In December 1975, 50 ROAR members participated in a sit-in at the Federal building, and in July 1975, 34 ROAR members led Louise Day Hicks participated in a sleep-in at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston during the national conference of mayors. [1]

March on Washington: 1975

Probably the most popular protest that ROAR organized was their own “March on Washington.” On March 18, 1975, over 1,000 ROAR members took a twelve-hour bus trip to Washington, DC. Mimicking the "March of Washington for Jobs and Freedom"--the successful 1963 civil rights demonstration that attracted over 200,000--ROAR members walked the from the Washington Monument to the Capitol Steps.[2] From this march, ROAR members hoped to spread as much awareness of people’s rights as the predecessors of the original march.

Radical Protesting

ROAR also participated in more radical stunts in an effort to shock the public. Some ROAR members used their bodies to block cars, particularly doing this with vehicles transporting newspapers and the school buses themselves.[3] 

September 10, 1974

One of the most popular forms of radical protest by ROAR members was on September 10, 1974 during an anti-busing rally headed by ROAR at City Hall. When Senator Kennedy attempted to approach the platform, “an angry crowd jeered Sen. Edward M. Kennedy off the platform before he could address an antibusing rally…and then fired eggs and tomatoes at him as he sought refuge…”[4]

December 11, 1974

ROAR also particiapted in numerous rallies around violence at Boston schools. One particular incident occured right before the holidays. On December 11, 1974, an incident occured at South Boston High School between a black student (James White) stabbing a white student (Michael Faith). As a result of the incident, the school locked the students inside. Soon after news of the incident got out, numerous Boston citizens, including ROAR members, crowded in front of the school, demanding justice. While school officials grouped the black students of the school together to remove them from the premise, ROAR members began shouting various slurs. Although Louise Day Hicks asked the mob to allow the black students to leave in peace, the mob would not hault in their assault. Eventually school officials and police escorted the black students out the back of the school and the mob dissolved. [5]

Propaganda: Buttons, Music, & Print

ROAR also borrowed techniques from past political campaigns to spread their message of anti-busing by using everything from buttons to music and from flyers to newspapers.


A ROAR button worn by many ROAR members and supporters.

Buttons & Clothes

ROAR members showed their pride to their causes through the clothing they wore. From buttons as pictured to the blue and yellow "tam o'shanters" and colored bands distinguishing neighborhood alliances worn by the members during marches and rallies, citizens of Boston could spot a ROAR member easily. Each neighborhood represented their alliance based on different colored bands worn on member's arms: South Bostonians wore green, East Bostonians wore orange, West Roxbury and Roslindale residents wore blue, Hyde Park residents wore purple, and Dorchester residents wore red. [6]


ROAR also shared their views through some unusual but effective means. ROAR used music to tell their point. Some songs included “R.O.A.R.’s Way”, sung to the tune of Frank Sinatras’s “My Way”, and “Southie is My Hometown”, a commonly loved song that ROAR protestors sang at their rallies, as most local members of ROAR were from South Boston.[7] Pictured on the right is a partical of lyrics to "R.O.A.R's Way", featured on the back of the First National ROAR Convention in 1975.



[1]Formisano, Ronald O. Boston Against Busing. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991., 141.
[2] Ibid., 142.
[3] Ibid., 141.
[4] "Sen Kennedy jeered from stage at rally,” Boston Globe, Sep. 10, 1974., 1.
[5]Nutter, Kathleen Banks. “’Militant Mothers’: Boston, Busing, and the Bicentennial of 1976.” Historical Journal of Massachusetts 38, no.2 (Fall 2010) 52-75. Accessed March 2016, 62.
[6] Ibid., 39.
[7]This item is made available for research and educational purposes through YouTube. Rights statuses are not evaluated.

How did people ROAR?