Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


March 14, 2013

Andover stories column


Andover’s Activists

“Honey, Jane and I have decided to go to Washington to the demonstration next week” was heard in more than a few of families among the hundreds who had moved to the Andovers during the expansion of the plant in North Andover. Wives attended rallies in Washington, a few young men joined marches in the deep South. Civil rights dominated the messages from many pulpits. Accounts of meetings appeared in the local news and letters to the editor.

The Boston City Missionary Society started a summer program for children who lived in the black community at Columbia Point in South Boston. Homes in Boston suburbs volunteered to host a child for a week. The kids from 17 families in on our cul-de-sac accepted our “camper.” One couple in particular clouded the air with their outward racist feelings, which were not uncommon in the summer of ‘63. At that time the Andover Council of Equal Opportunity (ACEO) was organized. Under the leadership of Dick Marciano and others they sought to promote the acceptance of people of color in the community. It’s active membership spanned Andover’s congregations. At West Parish, Bruce Van Blair inspired the founding of REACH (Realty Equality in Andover Community Housing), which sought to develop equal opportunity apartment housing in an area by the Horn Bridge. The project was dropped when it was found that more than 100 housing units were required for financial viability. Then The Fishermen were organized to promote initiatives that would further equal opportunities for members of minorities in the area.

In 1965, Josh Miner, new director of admissions at Phillips Academy initiated efforts to found Outward Bound in the U.S. This effective program has changed the lives of more than 600,000 youth and now serves 70,000 students and teachers a year. The Fishermen provided a scholarship to Outward Bound for a Lawrence youth as part of its efforts to address inequality of opportunity in the greater Lawrence community. The support of the needs of local youth and families by dozens of non-profits, volunteer organizations and churches has become a hallmark of Merrimack Valley communities since the social awakening began with the civil rights movement in the ‘60s.

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