Like every American city, Boston has struggled, and still struggles, with racism. Marty is committed to acknowledging this fact and doing all the things a mayor can do to make things right. Boston’s history has been shaped by exclusionary policies at the national level and local responses to those policies. Generations of Bostonians have experienced implicit and explicit bias in all aspects of life—from interpersonal relationships to housing policy to educational opportunity.
Perhaps no single event encapsulates Boston’s fraught history with racism more than the city’s experience with the desegregation of its public schools in the 1970s. While Boston had deep racial tensions before busing, the implementation of this order magnified these tensions. During this time, nearly a third of the white students were taken out of the school system, and overall enrollment dropped by almost 20 percent. We have yet to come to terms fully with those experiences as a city.
While we have made progress in some areas, the impacts of racial inequality have grown greater as our population has diversified since 1970. In 2010, people of color made up 53 percent of the population. Despite increasing diversity, however, neighborhoods remain widely segregated–and are even more so when you look at the Greater Boston metropolitan area.
In light of this history, it will take a deeply committed and widely concerted effort to bridge divides that exist in our city in order to ensure that we grow in a way that fosters opportunity for all. Mayor Walsh is committed to this work: by setting a positive example at City Hall; by holding citywide conversation on race that are open and honest; and by rallying powerful institutions in every sector to take actions that remedy injustice and move us toward equality.
Finally, as a white supremacist movement asserted itself more openly across the country this year, Mayor Walsh has led Boston in loudly condemning racism, calling out national leaders who support racists, and making clear that hate is not welcome in the city.
- Worked to diversify the city workforce by appointing 50% people of color to the cabinet, a first for Boston; promoting people of color to create the most diverse command staff in the history of the Boston Police Department (BPD); creating an Office of Diversity in City Hall and appointing Chief Diversity Officers at BPD and the Boston Fire Department. He reinstated the BPD Cadet program, for the purpose of further diversifying the force. Read Mayor Walsh’s reflections on the need for trust and understanding between policy and communities.
- Forged a groundbreaking partnership with 100 Resilient Cities to establish the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity, which released Resilient Boston, a strategy for advancing racial equity in Boston. When the grant ended, he committed to the office by including it in the FY18 budget.
- Held Boston’s first city-sponsored town hall conversation on race, featuring noted race and justice experts, as well as, Bostonians from across the city. Partnered with the Hyams Foundation to conduct dialogues about racism throughout Boston. Read Mayor Walsh’s thoughts about these events.
- Made Boston a leader in President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative to reduce opportunity gaps for boys and men of color; in My Brother’s Keeper Boston’s third year, Mayor Walsh appointed a new director to the program and secured $100,000 in grants for programs seeking to help young boys and young men of color.
- Challenged the business community and other institutions to join him in addressing systemic racism. Read more, here.
- Placed an Economic Inclusion and Equity Agenda at the heart of Economic Development policy, advancing four major themes: 1) income and employment, 2) wealth creation, 3) business development, and 4) economic mobility.
- Signed an Executive Order in 2016 to expand opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses.
- Responded to student concerns about the culture at Boston Latin School by convening diverse graduates, equity experts, and educators to drive change. Expanded the Exam School Initiative to get test preparation to more students of color. Then worked closely with Superintendent Chang to install a trusted leadership team, before hiring Latin’s first headmaster of color in its 382-year history. Learn more, here.
- Marty will continue to implement Resilient Boston, which outlines multiple strategies for battling systemic racism and promoting equity.
- Create a racial equity toolkit for government, businesses, institutions and other groups so that the entire city is working with shared language and understanding about racism and how to combat it.
- Build on efforts to engage the private sector in addressing the effects of racism in their companies, and working toward equity.
- Commission a new disparity study to explore expanded possibilities for using city policy to reduce race and gender based disparities.
- Conduct implicit bias training in City departments that don’t already conduct such trainings.
- Fulfill his commitment for an annual town hall on race, reconvening before the end of the year.