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Kendra Hicks, JP activist and artist, takes top spot for District 6 Boston City Council seat

Kendra Hicks, District 6 City Council candidate
Kendra Hicks, District 6 City Council candidateJeramie Regis

As a first-time candidate, Kendra Hicks may be new to running for public office, but she’s very familiar with the work that goes into running a grass-roots campaign.

“I’ve spent my whole life doing community organizing work,” said Hicks, 32. “In that work, you knock on doors and call people. And you have to create a vision that people can get behind.”

A single mother of a 5-year-old son, Hicks lives in Jamaica Plain and took the top spot for the District 6 seat on the Boston City Council in Tuesday’s preliminary election. Hicks received 9,236 votes (49.97 percent) and will be joined in the general election by former Boston School Committee member Mary Tamer, who ended up with 7,984 votes (43.19 percent).

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Hicks describes herself as a proud first-generation Black Dominican woman, and her ties to the local activist community run deep.

“I grew up here in District 6,” she said.

Born in the Bronx to an immigrant mother, Hicks and her family moved to Jamaica Plain in 1990. She and her six siblings all graduated from English High School.

As a teenager, Hicks got involved with the Hyde Square Task Force and she co-founded Beantown Society, a youth violence prevention organization. She was also a streetworker with the StreetSafe Boston initiative.

“Violence prevention and trauma response — that’s a big part of how I met a lot of people in the district,” she said. “I think that has garnered me a lot of trust in the neighborhood.”

Hicks currently serves as a director of radical philanthropy at Resist, a Boston-based foundation that was co-founded by Noam Chomsky and provides support to progressive movements for racial and economic justice.

Her 5-year-old son has autism and attends the Mozart Elementary School in Roslindale. On Wednesday morning, Hicks woke up early and made her son breakfast and lunch, and then put him on the school bus.

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Hicks is a registered Democrat and has received endorsements from the Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and several unions, including the the Boston Teachers Union and the Greater Boston Labor Council.

Hicks is also an artist, and and says she is the only City Council candidate with an arts and culture policy. In 2019 she launched a public art project honoring 11 Black women who were murdered in Boston in 1979.

In an interview with Boston.com, Hicks explained that the art installations were “invitations for people in the community to remember our collective history” and “what we survived in our community.”

“One of the things I wanted to pose really was, ‘Who gets memorialized in the city and who’s allowed to be memorialized? Who has monuments erected in their name?’ ”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.