Jon Kamp, Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2021
Boston’s new acting mayor, Kim Janey, on Monday night became the first woman and Black person to lead New England’s largest city.
The recent city council president succeeded second-term mayor Marty Walsh following his U.S. Senate confirmation Monday as Labor secretary and his resignation from his city job. Ms. Janey’s rise, as well as the diverse slate of women and men competing for Boston’s top job in November’s municipal election, marks significant changes following an unbroken string of white, male mayors since Boston was incorporated as a city 199 years ago.
“That’s enormously important given Boston’s history and where Boston was no less than 50 years ago,” said Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover Sr., the pastor at the Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, where Ms. Janey spent part of her childhood.
He referred to the antibusing movement of the 1970s, after a judge ordered the city’s schools to desegregate. Ms. Janey, 55 years old, said she faced people yelling racial slurs and throwing rocks while she rode a bus into a predominantly white neighborhood when she was 11.
She said in an interview that the city still faces many challenges, including the legacy of segregated neighborhoods and barriers that made it harder for minorities to get their children into good schools or build wealth by owning property.
She said she hasn’t decided whether to run for mayor this November. The race has already drawn a racially diverse list of at least five candidates, including three other women who serve on the city council.
It was less than 12 years ago, in 2009, when now-U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley became the first Black woman elected to that council. But observers believed Boston, a majority-minority city that has become more diverse in recent decades, would soon see more changes.