To honor the historic group of brave East Boston woman that kick started a tradition of community activism in the neighborhood, City Councilor Lydia Edwards founded an annual scholarship that will pay tribute to the Maverick Street Mothers.
The Maverick Street Mothers organized community protests in the late 1960s against Logan Airport expansion construction. The protest was widely publicized as women, mostly mothers, formed a blockade using baby carriages to stop construction and delivery trucks on Maverick Street.
Now, the Edwards Empowerment Fund is seeking applicants for the new scholarship. The Edwards Empowerment Fund is a registered non-profit established by the District 1 Councilor to uplift, amplify, and empower residents by providing equitable access to educational and skill-building opportunities. The annual scholarship will be awarded to parents wanting to further their education or are attending Boston-area colleges.
“To honor the Maverick Street mothers, we celebrate the legacy of leaders whose shoulders we stand on and helped shape the history of East Boston,” said Edwards. “Scholarship recipients will be shining examples of what it means to be involved and engaged members of the community. They are individuals who continue the important work of the original mothers by advocating for a better East Boston.”
All scholarship applicants must be residents of East Boston; have at least part-time custody of minor child/children, or guardianship of children/adult child, demonstrated hardship, demonstrated dedication to the community in the spirit of the Maverick Street Mothers–i.e. attend PTA or civic association meetings, fundraisers, volunteer, or attend any accredited institution.
The committee will make a case-by-case determination to prevent predatory institutions from benefiting from aid.
To request a copy of the application and guidelines, please contact [email protected] The application will be provided in both English and Spanish and all are welcomed to apply. Deadline to apply is Friday, October 25, 2019.
The Maverick Street Mothers protest was in response to the construction trucks bringing fill for a Logan expansion project. The trucks drove very fast down the densely populated Maverick Street, creating an unsafe situation for children, the elderly and the mothers that took their children out for walks or to run errands.
Eastie’s Karen Maddalena was a young mother when she made the decision to stand up against Massport’s expansion of Logan Airport. Her choice then to fight for the quality of life for herself and her neighbors ignited a lifelong career in community activism.
On September 28, 1968 and led by local legend the late Anna DeFronzo, Maddalena joined a group of mothers in what was to become a historic protest against the Port Authority and airport expansion.
The group became known as the ‘Maverick Street Mothers’ and their protest became the true beginning of environmental justice in Eastie and marked the opening salvo and first victory in the neighborhood’s famed transportation justice struggles.
“As a young mother, my involvement as a community activist started,” said Maddalena during a Massport dedication of a plaque honoring the mothers in 2015. “I joined my friends and neighbors to protest the huge trucks carrying fill along Maverick St. to the bird island flats section of the airport.”
After a series of meetings with Massport officials there was no relief in spite of the residents simply asking the Port Authority to use another route to haul the fill.
Frustration was growing in the neighborhood and former State Reptresentative, the late George DiLorenzo, met with the Maverick Street residents and the group decided to meet on the street the next day and block the trucks. People felt this radical ‘sit in’ approach could be effective.
It was decided that only women and children would participate in the demonstration because many felt if men were involved it might lead to fights and violence. The group notified the media, put out a simple press release and on the next day, September 28, the demonstration began.
As the dump trucks arrived the mothers, most pushing their children in baby carriages, blocked the street.
“When the first truck arrived there was a lot of noise with the drivers yelling and cursing at the mothers,” Maddalena remembers. “The trucks began to roll closer and closer to the protesters and someone called the State Police.”
The State Police arrived to restore order to the street and when the Maverick Mothers refused to back down the State Police began to drag and push the mothers to the sidewalk so the trucks could continue. However, former Mayor Kevin White, who was being kept abreast of the situation, sent in the Boston Police to counter the State Police’s use of force.
The Boston Police made the trucks stop and ordered the protest to continue.
That night the event was all over the evening news.
When Massport caught wind the protests would not end and continued the next day, Eastie’s elected officials pointed out that there were several other viable truck routes on Massport property that could be used.
After negotiations, Massport agreed to use the alternative truck routes and the Maverick Mothers scored a major victory during the era of Logan expansion.