Updated at 9:35 a.m. Oct. 13

Jean McGuire, a longtime advocate for education reform and racial fairness, remained in stable condition Wednesday after an attacker stabbed her during an evening stroll.

McGuire, 91, had been out walking her dog Bailey near Franklin Park on Tuesday evening, as she did most evenings, when she was confronted by a man with a knife and stabbed multiple times, police said. She was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Franklin Park Coalition president Rickie Thompson described the incident as “senseless" and left many in shock.

“This is someone that everybody knows and everybody loves,” Thompson said. “She’s a public servant, an advocate for the children of Boston, a real icon in this community just enjoying her golden years.”

Boston police said that the person who attacked McGuire was injured during the incident and asked for the public's help locating the suspect. They did not describe the nature of the man's injuries. Interim Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden, also a family friend of McGuire's, said her dog, Bailey, a Weimaraner, was helpful fending off the attacker.

Hayden said at a news conference Wednesday that police are actively looking for the culprit as McGuire recovers.

“She’s as positive and vibrant and upbeat as anyone who knows Jean McGuire would expect her to be, even as she sits in that hospital bed,” he said. “That is miraculous. That is powerful, that is amazing. Her attacker may have met the wrong person last night.”

Later on Wednesday, the district attorney joined more than two dozen people who gathered in Franklin Park to call for accountability after the attack on McGuire and the shooting death of 14-year-old Rasante Osorio in Roxbury on Monday. Black community leaders at the event called for the city to do more to address violence.

Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition, asked Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox to meet with community leaders within 48 hours.

"And nothing less than that is satisfying," he said. "The police commissioner needs to know that we are horrified by this, that we take it seriously and that we want to talk with him directly about how we rectify the issue of systemic violence within the Black community immediately."

Hayden said leaders have a plan to address the violence, "but that response must and shall include community engagement, community accountability. We cannot do it without you. We need our communities in order to best serve our communities."

A man in a suit stands behind a stand with several news organization-branded microphones. Behind him are about a dozen other people.
Acting Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden speaks at a gathering in Franklin Park to address violence in the community on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.
Esteban Bustillos GBH News

McGuire was the first Black social worker in the Boston Public Schools before becoming the first woman of color elected to the Boston School Committee in 1981. She helped found the METCO program in the 1960s as a way to help desegregate Boston schools by busing some city students to schools in suburban districts. A tireless advocate for desegregation and high-quality schools for all students, she was the executive director of the program for 43 years until she retired in 2016.

McGuire also mentored generations of young people over the decades, opening her home to students.

Mark Jackson moved in with McGuire at age 15 and attended high school in Brookline through the METCO program, and later took on odd jobs at the organization. Jackson said he has remained close friends with McGuire in the 50 years since.

Calling her a trailblazer, he said McGuire has remained independent and determined, whether it's advocating for civil rights or rejecting his offers to chaperone her on evening walks.

“She's a force of nature. You can't stop her,” Jackson said. “I'm hoping that this thing that this person did won't stop her either.”

McGuire has always been tough, he said, particularly in the face of challenges to the METCO program throughout her tenure. That kind of fierce advocacy gave students of color a chance to succeed, he added, by allowing them to escape substandard schools in Boston.

“Knowing Jean, she would probably stand up for the person who stabbed her and suggest that maybe something went wrong in their life, maybe they needed something, or some service wasn’t provided,” Jackson said. “She wouldn’t support the behavior, but she might say that the person needed help.”

In a 1976 interview with Say Brother, the long-running GBH program now known as Basic Black, McGuire advocated for more well-trained and sensitive teachers for the Black community, arguing that supporters of segregation were distracting the public from larger issues of inequity around resources.

“It’s very difficult to get people to focus on the real issues,” McGuire said. “As long as they can focus on vehicles like the school buses or the issue of whether Black teachers are qualified, they’re not going to be able to deal with pollution or housing or the other big issues that plague our country severely.”

METCO chief executive Milly Arbaje-Thomas issued a statement Wednesday calling McGuire a living legend who gave Boston children the opportunity to attend some of the highest quality schools in the nation. At the same time, she said, McGuire enriched largely white communities with those students' presence.

“Could her attacker have known that this fierce 91-year-old woman embodies the heart of commitment and initiative that made it possible for tens of thousands of children from Boston’s Black and Brown neighborhoods to have access to high-quality education and move on to better lives?” Arbaje-Thomas wrote. “Could that person have known that she dedicated her life to working for our community’s children, and all the people who struggle every day to gain access to the escalator of economic opportunity?”

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu visited McGuire in the hospital Wednesday, as did other elected officials and community leaders. Wu described McGuire as “an inspiration in every way.”

“I am disgusted and angry to know that an elder in our community had to fear for her safety while going about her daily routine,” Wu said.

Jackson said he breathed a sigh of relief when he heard that McGuire was awake and stable.

“She’s tougher than most people,” he said. “She’s not a lady who will go down easily.”

Even from her hospital bed, he said, McGuire was making calls to ask if her dog was safe.

This story was updated to include quotes and details from the Franklin Park community gathering on Wednesday night.