Tag Archives: Darcy Hicks

Remembering Michael Koskoff

The New York Times summed up the full life of a remarkable man in its lead paragraph:

Michael Koskoff, a renowned and dogged Connecticut litigator who defended Black Panthers, won record malpractice awards, mounted racial job-discrimination battles and sued gunmakers whose weapons were used in the Sandy Hook school massacre, died on Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 77.

The story details many more achievements of the longtime Westporter, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

He collaborated with his son Jacob on the screenplay for “Marshall,” the 2017 film about a major civil rights case — in Bridgeport – litigated by future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. (Click here for the complete “06880” story.)

Michael Koskoff’s son Josh was a partner in their law firm. This photo was taken as they worked on an important gun rights case just a month before Michael died.

With his other son, Westport resident Josh — a senior partner in the law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder — he won an important gun rights case last month. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that manufacturers of guns used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre can be held liable, in a suit brought by victims’ families.

Another celebrated case — involving hiring quotas in Bridgeport for black and Hispanic police officers — led to similar suits elsewhere. The result was more minorities being hired by police and fire departments across the country.

Michael Koskoff also “pioneered the use of vivid courtroom videos delivered in a documentary format,” the Times said.

He is survived by Rosalind Jacobs, his wife of 56 years; sons Josh and Jacob; daughters Sarah (an actress and screenwriter) and Juliet (a lawyer in New York); 2 sisters, and 8 grandsons.

Roz and Michael Koskoff

Michael Koskoff was a very devoted father and grandfather. In a torrent of tributes, some of the most eloquent were posted on social media by those closest to him.

The day after his father died, Jacob wrote:

Over the past 24 hours many have said they are sorry for our loss, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why that hasn’t sounded right. But the answer is obvious: from the very beginning, it was just so incredibly unfair how fortunate we were to have had him as a father.

A month earlier, on his father’s birthday, Jacob had said:

Soon after he got his diagnosis, my dad and I were walking in downtown Westport waiting for our takeout. It was dark and cold, and he was slow, and I was holding a box of cupcakes — students were raising money for something that I’m pretty sure was never explained to us. For the first time I asked him how he was feeling, in the greater sense. He took one breath and said, “I’m just glad this happened after the movie came out. If it had been before, I’d be seriously pissed.”

He has 8 grandsons, and each one is his favorite.

Eyes on the Prize. Wild Strawberries. Shakespeare at The Public Theater. He took me to see Annie when I was 8. Henry IV parts 1 and 2 a few years later. He is the most unpretentious, socially conscious, opera-loving wine connoisseur you’ll ever meet.

Michael and Jake Koskoff, collaborating on “Marshall.”

We went to dozens of Mets games together. He coached my Little League teams with his friend Terry Smith. They would sometimes pick the batting lineup out of a hat. He knew little about how the game was played and had no business coaching a team of 13-15-year-olds. He’d hit fielding practice and say “third base,” then weakly ground the ball to first. He had devoted himself to the sport, had humbled himself, only to be closer to me. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Joan Baez taught him how to play the guitar in Harvard Square.

He once lent a car he wasn’t using to an acquaintance. Not even a friend, just someone he knew who needed a car. He never saw the car again. Not only did my dad not report it to the police, but for years he paid the guy’s parking tickets.

What’s the opposite of self-pity? Right, gratitude. That’s his religion: live with grace and kindness, persistence, generosity, and always, whenever possible, with gratitude.

Michael Koskoff and Barack Obama share smiles.

Michael’s daughter Juliet Koskoff Diamond added:

He died as he lived, with grace and gratitude for all the gifts he has been giving. In the end he was surrounded by his family, listening, to Mozart and quoting Shakespeare. He was able to say goodbye and was at peace.

And Josh’s wife, Darcy Hicks, wrote:

My father-in-law, Mike Koskoff, spent 77 years blasting this earth with love and justice. Knowing him made your life easier. He made it easy to become a part of his amazing family. He made it easier to laugh when you thought you weren’t in the mood. He made it easier to see the path to justice when no one thought there was one.

And mostly, he made it easy to love everyone- because through his eyes, empathy spilled and cleaned the view, so everyone who knew him could see how to live better. There’s only one thing he made impossible: doing that deifying thing we do about someone when they die. He just didn’t leave us any room to embellish him.

(Click here for the full New York Times obituary.)

Pop-Up Gallery “Uncovers” Women Artists

Darcy Hicks, Amy Kaplan, Liz Leggett and Tammy Winser are talented Westport artists. Many of their works address their experiences as women in today’s world.

As they talked last fall, they realized they were creating pieces in response to the Kavanaugh hearings, to stories of abuse, and to the joys, challenges and humor of motherhood.

“F— You, Hormones,” by Tammy Winser.

They also realized that they were keeping some of their work hidden.

“Westport has a long, rich history of art and writing,” Darcy notes. “But it’s small. Unlike New York, there is no security of anonymity.”

The women also realized that even if they took that big step into the open, there was no place to show their work.

Now there is.

On Saturday, April 27, a pop-up show — “Uncovered: What She Hides” — opens at 1 Main Street (the corner of Post Road East, where Calypso once was). It runs through June 1.

“Despite progress, women adhere to an ingrained societal protocol of accommodation and editing,” saysLeggett.

“The art and accompanying events in this exhibit will embolden viewers to converse and connect around shared stories.”

“Untitled,” by Barbara Ringer.

The pop-up show — which also features Westporters Chloe Blythe, Julie Gannon, Sarah Koskoff, Melissa Newman and Barbara Ringer — includes several inter-generational events.

Students from the Women’s Studies class at Staples High School will run an artists’ panel discussion on May 5. There are also coffees, interpretive dance, and an adult drawing and writing class (novices welcome).

“Art generates conversations and compassion,” Hicks says. “While allowing for varying perspectives, it can be the glue that holds a community together.”

(The grand opening celebration is Thursday, May 2, 6 to 8 p.m. A portion of sales throughout the show will be donated to Project Return — Westport’s residence for homeless young women — and the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force. For more information on “Uncovered: What She Hides,” including the schedule of events, click here.)

Peace At Compo, For Christchurch

On the spur of the moment, Darcy Hicks organized a few dozen friends and strangers yesterday.

They gathered at Compo Beach, and formed a giant peace sign.

(Drone photo by Ryan Felner)

The group stood in solidarity with victims of Friday’s attack on 2 Muslim mosques halfway around the world.

Darcy says, “We stand with Christchurch, New Zealand against racism, intolerance and violence. We are all human. Let’s commit to finding common ground and healing this world.”

Senator Blumenthal In Westport: Separating Families Is Profoundly Depressing — And Un-American

Yesterday, Richard Blumenthal was in Texas. He toured a border processing center, and a detention center packed with 250 boys.

Today, Connecticut’s senior senator was in Westport. Standing on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, lined with the flags of dozens of nations, he pointed to America’s stars and stripes flying directly overhead.

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal on the Post Road bridge this afternoon. He pointed to the American flag — flying with many others — and said its values are more important than ever.

This country’s values are very important, he said told a crowd of about 100. They gathered to protest President Trump’s immigration policies.

But those values are under attack, Blumenthal continued. And, he warned, darker days may lie ahead.

Before he spoke, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (far left) stood with the crowd on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. They listened as protest organizer Darcy Hicks described the important of speaking up against President Trump’s immigration policies.

The senator spoke of his own father — an immigrant fleeing Nazi Germany. The current president, he said, would have turned that 17-year-old away.

Blumenthal thanked Westporters for caring, and for speaking out and standing up. Those values, he said, are more important than ever.

One of the signs seen at today’s protest.

This message counters the one worn on a jacket his past week, by First Lady Melania Trump. It read: “I really don’t care, do u?” (All photos/Dan Woog)

Pulitzer Prize Winner Photographs Westport Protest

Tyler Hicks — the globe-trotting, Pulitzer Prize-and-many-other-honors-winning New York Times photographer — was in his hometown of Westport today.

If there’s a newsworthy event, he finds it.

Several dozen people — including Congressman Jim Himes and State Senate candidate Will Haskell — stood on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

They held signs deploring the separation of children from families at the US border; the detention centers those young kids are placed in, and the government’s refusal to let even a US senator investigate conditions.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks)

From his current home in Nairobi, Tylel Hicks roams far and wide. He covers deadly conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Russia, Bosnia, the Mideast, Chechnya and across Africa.

In 2011, he and fellow Westport Pulitzer Prize winner Lynsey Addario were kidnapped in Libya.

This protest was quieter than those he usually sees.

But the cause — the treatment of human beings — is as important as anything else Tyler shoots. As Rep. Himes said: “This is not a political issue. It’s a moral issue.”

So — as he always is — Tyler Hicks was there.

Tyler Hicks’ sister Darcy turned the tables, and photographed the photographer as he photographed the protest. (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

5 Years After Sandy Hook: Candlelight Vigil Remembers — And Demands Action

Mark Barden lost his son Daniel in the Sandy Hook massacre. He will play guitar; his high school daughter Natalie will sing.

Speakers will include survivors of gun violence, from around the area. A gospel choir will sing.

Of course, candles will burn.

The event is a vigil next Sunday (December 10, 4:30 p.m., Westport Unitarian Church).

Sponsored by the church, Defendemocracy.com, Sandy Hook Promise and CT Against Gun Violence, it’s part of a nationwide effort to remember the 5th anniversary of that awful day — and enact meaningful change.

 

Westporter Darcy Hicks is one of the organizers. She says, “This vigil is one of hundreds across the country this week. We believe the best way to honor the half million people killed by guns since the Sandy Hook shooting is to insist on common sense gun legislation. The ongoing failure of Congress to take action is inexcusable.”

Hicks is organizing the vigil with the same women — Lisa Bowman, Nita Prasad and Lauren Soloff — who worked on Westport’s “Democracy on Display” march earlier this year.

They’ve gotten help from Defendemocracy’s Heidi Hammer, Sara Kempner and Cathy Rozynek.

It’s a community-wide effort, Hicks says, to address a national problem. For more information, click here.

 

“This Town Was Built By Dreamers”

As political leaders debate the fate of Dreamers — 800,000 undocumented migrants who arrived in the US before the age of 16 — a small group of Westporters stood on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen downtown bridge this afternoon, protesting President Trump’s proposed repeal of the DACA program.

Holding a sign festooned with flags of various countries — including the US and Italy — the group reminded passing motorists that Westport owes a great debt to immigrants.

Laws were much looser in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the ancestors of many Westporters came here to work.

Darcy Hicks, Melissa Kane, Sarah Kempner and Lauren Soloff, with their message. (Photo/Theo Koskoff)

Midway through the event, a car stopped. Two men got out, and approached the group.

Slowly, Jose and Robert shook the hands of every protester. They thanked the group for representing them.

Both men are Dreamers.

Then they got back in their car, and drove off.

They were on their way to work.

One of the Dreamers, thanking a protester. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Fran Southworth: Why I Stood On The Bridge

Fran Southworth has lived in Westport for 29 years. She is part of Indivisible Connecticut 4, and the Facebook Love in Action group.

Last night — saddened and horrified by the events in Charlottesville — she felt compelled to act. Fran writes:

Seeing the images of the University of Virginia students made me think about my own kids when they were in college, and the horror if they had been confronted with such hatred, intolerance and racism. Because of the hateful slogans chanted by the white supremacists, and the physical actions that caused at least 1 death and many injuries, I felt the need to unify as a community. We needed to come together to voice our opposition to hate, and teach our children and grandchildren that what they are witnessing now is not what America is all about.

So I decided to do a pop-up peaceful gathering on our bridge in Westport. I thought I might  be standing there alone with my sign: “Normalize Love Not Hate! Honk if You Agree.”

Getting Darcy Hicks involved was a sure way to gather people.

This morning Melissa Kane contacted me. We chatted about our similar family history. She spread the word as well.

Then a new activist friend, Juliana Hess, told her group. We were off and running.

Juliana wrote beautifully that people in Europe would never have sat back and done nothing if they knew what was coming. My Jewish grandparents ran for their lives from Russia. They and others told me stories of friends and relatives who ran. Many were killed in the Holocaust. Others survived. All taught me: “Never Again.”

Never again — yet Charlottesville just happened. I feel very deeply the pain, destruction and horror it has caused. I also say: “Never Again.”

Fran Southworth (center), flanked by Myra Garvett and Darcy Hicks, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge earlier today.

I also want to speak out for my close friend and singing partner, an African American woman. Because of the history of slavery and racism in America, blacks have always struggled here. But things are worsening, with white supremacists set loose by the tacit acceptance of our administration toward violence and intolerance.

My friend explained to me that they don’t want to have a separate “Black Lives Matter” presence. Unfortunately they have to.

We have to stop these white supremacists in their tracks. We must make it very clear that they — and their hate and intolerance — have no place in our communities. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are the antitheses of our American values.

The president said there are many sides to this. There are no other sides to hatred and bigotry. I watched David Duke, a former KKK leader, say that President Trump told them they will take back our country.

No! We will take back our country. We will continue to live up to the American ideals of tolerance and inclusion of all people.

We need to let our politicians know that this is a very important issue for all of us. It’s not about anyone’s political party or agenda. It’s about human decency, compassion and respect.

Ka-Boom!

A tree fell earlier today on Hillspoint Road, by the Conservative Synagogue. It brought down utility lines, cutting power to over 50 customers. The traffic light at the Post Road by McDonald’s was out too.

A tree falls on Hillspoint Road

Darcy Hicks — who lives nearby — took this shot. Apparently her brother Tyler — the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer — is not the only Hicks family member with an eye for dramatic news images.

Candlelight Climate Vigil Set For Sunday

Two months ago Darcy Hicks, Lauren Soloff, Lisa Bowman and Nita Prasad organized a “Democracy on Display” rally in downtown Westport.

Nearly 1,000 citizens marched from Jesup Green to Veterans Green. Senators Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, and Congressman Jim Himes, all spoke.

The 4 women have just begun.

Furious and heartbroken over President Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement, they texted furiously with each other on Thursday night.

They agree they needed to do something to show how many Westporters stand against what Hicks calls “this callous and isolationist approach.”

In April, millions demonstrated around the world to bring attention to climate change.

Hicks created a Facebook page: “CTontheMove Candlelight Vigil for Climate Protection.”

The women are putting their words into action: The vigil is set for this Sunday (June 4), 7:30 p.m. at the Compo Beach cannons.

“We need to show the world that we are with them when it comes to environmental protection, global prosperity, and world participation,” organizers say.

“And we need to show our children that we are on the front lines, fighting for their future. This will be a peaceful but powerful protest.”

There will be 200 votive candles available. Respiratory masks too.

Sunday’s weather is not predicted to be great.

But the forecast for the planet is worse.

Organizers of Sunday’s vigil at the Compo Beach cannons hope to ensure a bright future for their children and grandchildren.