Interview with Robert Kiley

So now, that leads into another question which is, we have footage of Mrs. Hicks talking to a mob outside South Boston High who had come after a White kid had been stabbed, and she's pleading with them to let the Black students inside return to Roxbury, and the mob yells back, "NO!" They won't listen to her. What does that make you think of in terms of Mrs. Hicks and, and what she did?


Well, during the 1960s in a certain sense, she became a one issue candidate, and the issue was school busing. Temperamentally, I think it's fair to say that she was a rather moderate person, and a not unreasonable person. I think if you were dealing with her on issues outside the context of school desegregation, she was an easy person to deal with. I think her natural instinct, ah, was one of conciliation and peace. She was not out looking for trouble. And, temperamentally, not, ah, a demagogue or an agitator, but she certainly found her issue, and she worked it very hard and she had a real following and a real constituency. As often happens with really emotional issues as school busing became in Boston, your constituency gets out in front of you. You are running to keep up with them, and I think during the couple years that preceded the judges finding, certainly in the months that preceded the opening of school in the fall of '74, the constituency was really way out in front of the leaders and the leaders were racing to get up, and it became very emotional and very difficult to control. When school opened, and violence broke out, ah, as it did throughout that fall, then people began to come back into it, business leaders and others, but it was too late to be of very much help in 1974.