Charity Mahouna Hicks

Charity Hicks was at home in Detroit this spring when workers showed up to shut off the water at her neighbors’ houses. The city was targeting people all over the city who hadn’t paid their water bills.

Hicks came running out of her house, said Sanaa Green, a friend and colleague of Hicks. “She wanted to see if they would at least let the people draw some water in the tub.” While trying to warn a neighbor with young children, Hicks was arrested.

She lived her whole life with that headlong, fierce energy, Green said, but also with great love and joy. Her passion made her a sought-after public speaker on social justice issues, which is what brought her to New York. “She was always open and willing to share part of herself with people,” said Green.

At the community organization where she worked, Hicks stood out in her vibrant African print dresses. Young people flocked to her. Hicks would lecture them “about why they should all become activists,” Green said. “But they loved it.”

“I hope that me and the young people she talked to will be inspired to live a life of service,” Green said. “I think that’s a part of what we can make from her life.”

This collision happened on May 31, 2014 near West 34th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan. See details in the Mean Streets Tracker.

Mean Streets 2014: Who We Lost, How They Lived

Throughout 2014, WNYC tracked the 265 men, women and children killed in traffic crashes in New York City. In addition to reporting the circumstances of their deaths, we looked at who they were in life: mothers, fathers, grandparents, students, recent immigrants and native New Yorkers. To read some of their stories, click on a photograph.