As 2023 draws to a close, we're revisiting the biggest headlines of the year. Here are some of the most-read stories from GBH News.
1. The Boston Marathon
The marathon is always a big event, drawing people from all around the world to participate in and watch the race. But this year, the race also came with allegations of discrimination.
Ahead of the race, runner Fiona English complained about the Boston Athletic Association not providing her options after she got pregnant and needed to pull out of the race. The BAA later created a policy allowing pregnant and postpartum runners to defer to another year.
Then, on Marathon Monday in Newton, the scene turned from celebratory to contentious after police approached members of a Black running group who were cheering on marathon participants and briefly running alongside them.
2. A tragedy in Maine
A mass shooting deeply affected Lewiston, Maine, in October. The attack left 18 people dead — including four members of the local Deaf community — and resulted in a shelter-in-place order for residents as police led a dayslong search for the shooter.
3. The death of Brian O’Donovan
The longtime host of GBH's radio show A Celtic Soujourn and A Christmas Celtic Sojourn died of complications from brain cancer.
For decades, O'Donovan used music to transport New England listeners to his homeland of Ireland. His celebration of Irish music and culture earned him appreciation both here and abroad. Friends and collaborators reflected on O'Donovan's influence in the community, and the president of Ireland wrote a letter to be read at O'Donovan's memorial.
4. Municipal elections
2023 wasn't a presidential election year, so it got a bit less attention than some elections, but there were still some notable takeaways.
In Boston, the biggest news came out of the preliminary election when voters prevented incumbent City Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Kendra Lara — who both were surrounded by their share of drama — from advancing to the general election.
In Worcester, multiple candidates were vying for all 11 City Council seats, including mayor, but the incumbents held off challengers to retain their seats. It was a different story for the school committee, which got a major shakeup with former Worcester superintendent Maureen Binienda defeating two incumbents.
5. Licenses for undocumented immigrants
After 20 years of debate in the Massachusetts Legislature, the state began allowing residents without legal immigration status to apply for driver's licensesin July.
Still, hurdles remain. Immigration advocates say some RMV workers don't know the documentation required for this new license type and thus aren't able to provide the correct guidance, and not all materials on the website have been translated.
6. Affirmative action overturned
In June, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down affirmative action in college admissions. The plaintiffs had argued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had discriminated against Asian American applicants, and that colleges should not be able to consider race in the admissions process.
7. The death of Mel King
Trailblazer Mel King died in March at the age of 94. In politics and on the streets, King fought for equal access and opportunities. He inspired generations of Bostonians, especially in communities of color, and became a sought-after endorsement for other politicians pushing for change.
"His memory will forever nourish the earth we tread, his words will guide us on our path to justice. And today he wears an eternal crown befitting the king he was. Rest in power," U.S. Rep Ayanna Pressley said at King's funeral.
8. Repatriation of looted art
In September, the Worcester Art Museum announced it had turned over a $5 million bronze bust that was "likely stolen" from Turkey. Later in the fall, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts announced it was surrendering two bronze pieces from its collection.
Art history experts say the museums should have known sooner that the sculptures were stolen and sought to return them, but they were still glad to see the institutions' actions.
9. Migrant arrivals push Mass. shelter system to its breaking point
Thousands of migrants came to Massachusetts this year. Some found whatever safe space they could, including Logan Airport and Boston Medical Center, until those spaces started turning people away. Others were able to find emergency shelter through the state, until that system ran out of space.
The state has allocated additional funds to support migrants and expand the shelter system. But it's clear that this will continue to be a big topic in 2024.
10. Pentagon leaks from Massachusetts
A 21-year-old Massachusetts National Guardsman was arrested in April after allegedly leaking top-secret documents. Jack Teixeira is charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material. He remains in jail awaiting trial.