By Michael Volpe

Family members of legendary civil-rights leader Robert Hicks say they won’t be intimidated by a fire at the home of the recently deceased civil-rights icon.

The blaze happened recently, and fire investigators told the family they believe it was set.

Hicks died in 2010, but his family continues to carry out his civil-rights work.

“I refuse to live my life in the shadow of fear, hatred and ignorance, ever,” said daughter Barbara Hicks-Collins.

Hicks’ widow, Valeria, said she would pray for the perpetrators.

“I’m so grateful to God that we are unharmed. I am truly heartbroken that there are people so misguided. They really need someone to love them. If I was near them, I’d give them a hug,” she said.

Barbara Hicks-Collins says she was awakened in the early morning on Martin Luther King Day by a loud knock at her door at the family’s longtime home in the 2600 block of South Columbia in Bogalusa, La.

When she looked outside her window, she saw her Mercedes on fire on the front lawn. Hicks-Collins said she then woke up her 82-year-old mother, Caleira, and both evacuated their home unharmed.

According to the Hicks family, an arson investigation found that one side of their home was burned and firefighters told them that they believed both fires were set.

Fire officials didn’t return WND’s call for comment.

This wasn’t the first time the Hicks home has become the center of a racially charged incident. In 1965, Robert Hicks was nearly killed when a group of Klansmen came to his home armed with guns.

The Klan was angry because Hicks had put up a number of white civil rights workers at his home. Hicks was ready for them, with several of his neighbors protecting his home armed with guns. The Klansmen backed down and the confrontation ended peacefully.

Hicks died in 2010, but left a near four decade legacy in civil rights. He was involved in many of the civil rights reforms in Louisiana, including leading marches and filing lawsuits over issues.

His actions hastened the way for integration of schools, buses, and diners in Louisiana. It was his role as a leader of the Deacons for Defense and Justice that gave him his biggest notoriety.

The Deacons believed that being armed would deter many of the racists of the day. It also put Hicks at odds with the most famous civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, who was known for non-violence. King criticized the Deacons for “aggressive violence.”

Hicks-Collins says it was in 2007 the family home was burned to the ground. It was rebuilt and no one ever was charged for the fire.

“There was no FBI investigation, the cause was undetermined. That may have been the same thing,” said Hicks-Collins. She said she hopes that investigators will take a fresh look at the 2007 incident in light of this attack.

The timing of the fire wasn’t lost on anyone. Hicks-Collins said, “Because of who my father was, and everything he did, on Martin Luther King day, it’s odd that it happened on the same day.”

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