Among the many sorrows of 2020, it took from us two stalwarts of the social justice struggle: Sandy Hicks, recipient of the First Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 1987 and Dr. Marie Metoyer, in 2008. Sandy set the standard of service, advocacy, and tenacity that characterized all those who received the MLK Award after her; Marie met that standard with grace.
Sandy and Marie shared much — the virtues of integrity, perseverance, courage, kindness, and compassion. They put those virtues and their formidable intelligence and insight to work for many organizations and causes. Sandy was fond of saying that she “wore many hats” as did Marie. Sandy and Marie were both essential to the NAACP, YWCA NH, the African American Historical and Genealogical Society, the NH Commission on the Status of Women, and the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. Each was a founding member of the New Hampshire Minority Health Coalition, the Greater Manchester Black Scholarship Foundation, and the Cultural Diversity Task Force.
In their personal lives, Sandy and Marie both were fiercely committed to family and faith, for Sandy Baha’i and for Marie Catholicism. Sandy, one of five siblings, had four children with her husband Wade and fostered more. Marie, one of six siblings, had five children with her husband Victor.
Marie, a physician, practiced first as an OB/GYN in her native New Jersey. After 16 years, in response to a call for more community based mental health resources, Marie took up a psychiatric residency in Vermont, which led to her being the first full-time psychiatrist practicing in the Northeast Kingdom and the first and only African American woman psychiatrist in northern New England. She and Victor moved to Manchester where Marie was Clinical Director of the Day Program at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. Both Victor and Marie were members and volunteers at the [then] Currier Gallery of Art. Marie served in many different capacities in medical societies in Vermont and New Hampshire. She promoted cultural diversity and social justice serving on the NH Advisory Committee for the Federal Civil Right Commission, the Cultural Competence Board of the Mental Health Center and as President of PeopleFest, the revival of the Manchester International Festival.
Sandy, a native New Englander, came to Manchester with her family in the mid-60s. She was a therapist at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. After retirement, she served there as a volunteer HIV/AIDS educator. A dedicated activist and advocate, Sandy, who was declared legally blind in 1975, was a pillar of the NH Association for the Blind, the Disability Consumer Rights Council, the YWCA Crisis Center, and the Emerging Leaders in Community of Colors program. For Manchester public access television, Sandy hosted “Circle of Friends” and “Inside Story,” programs that presented and promoted the cultural diversity of the greater Manchester population and educated viewers about efforts to bring equity to all segments of the population, including people of color, immigrants, and refugees.
Dr. King said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community . . .” Sandy and Marie, with their warmth, their accomplishments, their loving kindness, created the beloved community wherever they were. We were blessed to have known them.