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New Boston Mayor Kim Janey: 'We cannot go back to normal' on racial equity

New Boston Mayor Kim Janey: 'We cannot go back to normal' on racial equity

Kim Janey, who last month became the first Black woman to be named mayor of Boston, said in a CNN interview published Sunday that the city cannot return “to normal” when it comes to its history of racial inequities.

Janey made the remark while discussing the city’s history on race and a perception of Boston, which had only been represented by white men in the mayor’s office before she assumed the role, as a racist city.

“I know there is a perception and a reputation that Boston has, but I think what is important is that the reality and the opportunities that we create for residents here is one that is focused on equity, on justice, on love and ensuring that there is shared prosperity in our city and shared opportunities,” she said. 

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“It's not to say that we've solved everything when it comes to racism, but I think we have come a long way,” she continued.

Janey, former president of the Boston City Council, became mayor last month after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm now-former Boston Mayor Marty WalshMarty WalshStudy: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Former AFL-CIO official tapped to lead Labor Department division MORE (D) to head up President BidenJoe BidenVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected BuzzFeed News finds Biden's private Venmo account Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 MORE’s Labor Department.

The historic move shattered several glass ceilings in Boston at the intersection of race and gender. Not only was Janey the first Black person to assume the seat, but she is also the first woman and person of color ever to hold the title. 

“To think that we would have a Black mayor in my lifetime, even though we've had a Black president, still kind of felt out of reach,” she told CNN. “That we have one and that it's actually me is kind of mind blowing.”

The Democrat also spoke about the city’s history of racial segregation in schools. She said busing began in the city when her father, Clifford Janey, who was once a public school administrator for Boston Public Schools and later became a school superintendent, began teaching in the city.

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“That was a very difficult time. It was traumatic and painful experience for many of the children and families,” Janey, who was a student during the period of busing in Boston, said.

“It was scary. I think about my own grandchildren. And when they were 11, if they had to experience such a scary time in their lives in terms of the angry mobs of people who didn't want these school buses rolling in and would express themselves by throwing rocks or sticks or bottles or racial slurs,” she continued.

CNN noted that glaring racial disparities persist for the city, despite strides made in recent decades.

The report comes after research emerged that showed white families in Boston alone had a median net worth of $247,000. By contrast, Black families had a median net worth of $8, according to the network. 

In her interview, Janey said she thinks “there is certainly a call for racial equity and making sure that we are leading with that lens.” 

“You know, and then there's the added responsibility and burden of being the first, you know, first woman, first Black mayor for our city. And I don't take that responsibility lightly,” she continued.

“We cannot go back to normal,” she told the network. “I know, people are anxious to get on with their lives, put this pandemic behind us. And I certainly want to do that as well, put the pandemic behind us. But we have to come out of this pandemic stronger than before.”