BOSTON – Wednesday, March 24, 2021 – Mayor Kim Janey was sworn into office today as the 55th Mayor of the City of Boston during an intimate City Hall ceremony that was attended by close friends and family. Mayor Janey, who makes history as the first woman and the first Black mayor in Boston’s history, was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, the first Black woman to lead the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the first woman of color to serve on the Boston City Council, presided over the ceremony, and Reverend Willie Bodrick, II, Senior Pastor at the Historic Twelfth Baptist Church, delivered the invocation. Mayor Janey takes office after former Mayor Martin J. Walsh was confirmed earlier this week by the United States Senate to be the nation’s next Secretary of Labor.
“Today is a new day,” said Mayor Janey. “I stand before you as the first woman and the first Black mayor of Boston, the city that I love. I come to this day with a life experience that is different from the men who came before me. I was born into a family with deep roots in the South End and six generations in Roxbury, the center of our great city. I come from a long line of proud educators, entrepreneurs, artists and advocates. I am grateful for my parents who raised me, my daughter who inspired me, my siblings who supported me, and my aunties, uncles and cousins who have always rooted for me. Thank you, all.”
Mayor Janey will lead Boston through the COVID-19 pandemic with a citywide agenda for recovery, reopening and renewal. Her pandemic recovery priorities include distributing vaccines effectively, returning children to school safely, and centering disadvantaged workers and businesses in the city’s economic recovery.
Mayor Janey’s swearing-in speech was framed by the values that she was raised with and that guide her to this day: the importance of education, the power of community organizing, and the fundamental principles of equity and justice. She talked about being forced onto the front lines of the battle to desegregate Boston’s public schools as an eleven year-old middle school student who faced rocks and racial slurs during the busing era and about how becoming a young mother in high school helped shape her life.
As one of only two Black students in her high school graduating class, Mayor Janey attended Reading Public Schools through the METCO program. She would go on to attend Smith College before withdrawing to care for her grandfather. Janey began her advocacy on behalf of children inspired by the interconnection of her own daughter’s experiences with those of other children. In her role at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Mayor Janey championed systemic policy reforms to increase equity, excellence, access, and opportunity in Boston Public Schools. She placed a special focus on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps for children of color, immigrant children, students who are learning English, children with special needs, and those living in poverty.
“As I assume the responsibilities of the Mayor of Boston, I promise to give you bold, courageous leadership,” said Mayor Janey. “Our recovery must include working together on behalf of our children. That means safely reopening our schools and vaccinating our teachers. That also means investing in a summer of opportunities. I will partner with the superintendent to rally the business community, neighborhood groups and faith-based organizations to help our children recover academically and emotionally.”
Mayor Janey discussed education and opportunity as personal issues for her, highlighting that she fought hard to ensure her daughter had access to a quality public education and citing her work over two decades to increase equity and excellence in education to all students in Boston Public Schools.
“Our nation and our city are built on a promise that achieving your dreams is possible — regardless of race, religion, immigration status, income, gender identity, or who you love — but we have so much work to do to make those dreams real for everyone,” said Mayor Janey. “And we have to start by calling out the challenges facing our city openly, honestly and transparently,” she said while highlighting the enormous wealth gap that exists for Black families in Boston. In 2015, a report commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston called The Color of Wealth in Boston found that while white households have a median net worth of $247,500, the median net worth of Black families is just $8.
Pledging to address economic disparities with new urgency to reopen Boston’s economy with equity in the wake of the pandemic, Mayor Janey cited inequality in city contracting as a priority. She also committed to building upon her work as City Council President to reform policing in Boston in order to help dismantle systemic racism.
“While today is a new day, while Boston has come so far, we also must acknowledge that we have so much more work to do. That work starts now,” said Mayor Janey.
Mayor Janey paid special tribute to the long line of Black women in Boston who helped break down barriers and pave the way for the city’s first woman of color to become Mayor. Mayor Janey honored activists like Melnea Cass, journalists like Sarah Ann Shaw and Liz Walker, and public servants like Doris Bunte, Jean McGuire and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, saying, “I stand on their shoulders today.”
Mayor Janey took a moment to congratulate newly sworn-in Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh on his confirmation this week and to thank him for his seven years of service as mayor of Boston. “As a son of Dorchester, your achievement makes us all proud,” said Mayor Janey. “Working people across our country could not have a more passionate advocate in Washington.”
Prior to becoming Mayor, Janey made history in 2017 when she was elected to the Boston City Council as the first woman to represent District 7, which includes Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester, and the Fenway. In 2020, she was elected by her peers as President of the Boston City Council.
A recording and the full text of Mayor Janey’s swearing-in speech is available here
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Image: Mayor Kim Janey is sworn in by Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, with her granddaughter Rosie holding a Bible