Our History of Activism
Boston’s Ward 4, including parts of the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Fenway, and the South End, is home to a vibrant history of political activism and civic leadership.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Ward Committee and its members played an active role in advancing democracy and civil rights, from the initial efforts in 1968 to establish elected representation in state government for the South End, to the redrawing of Ward lines in 1972 to ensure diversity and balance, to the election of a slate of delegates supporting Shirley Chisholm at the Democratic National Convention, to, most importantly, grassroots activity on behalf of equity in housing and urban renewal, transportation, education, and healthcare. These efforts have lifted our communities and set a standard for progressive activism.
Members of the Ward committee’s leadership who have gone on to hold elected office include former State Rep Mel King, former State Rep Byron Rushing, Mayor Michelle Wu, and State Rep Jon Santiago.
Former and current Committee chairs Kim Vermeer, Janet Slovin, Michelle Wu, Conor Pewarski, Sheneal Parker, Andrea Olmstead, and Jonathan Cohn exemplify the guiding principles that have ignited our activism.
The Ward 4 Democratic Committee has been gifted a treasure trove of documents, newsletters, news clippings, flyers, and memos that date back to these early years of the Committee’s history. These papers represent an invaluable resource for understanding the powerful legacy of political activism and community engagement that we have inherited from Herb Hershfang, Byron Rushing, Mel King, Henry Wood, Patricia Flanigan, Edna James, Tom Atkins, David King, and so many others.