ROAR was originally organized by Louise Day Hicks as the "Save Boston Committee. The committee was organized to oppose the Racial Imbalance Act and first met in February 1974. Thomas O' Connell, a father from the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston was appointed its first chair. On April 3, 1974, the committee organized a 20,000 person march from Boston City Hall Plaza to the State House. By June of 1974, the committee had changed its name to ROAR.
The group's purpose was to fight off U.S. Federal Judge W. Arthur Garrity's court order requiring the city of Boston to implement desegregation busing — an order intended to eliminate de factoracial segregation in its public schools. To supporters, ROAR's purpose was its namesake; i.e., to protect the "vanishing rights" of white citizens. To its many opponents, however, ROAR was a symbol of mass racism coalesced into a single organization. ROAR was composed primarily of women, and its leaders argued that "the issue of forced busing is a women's issue."