The re-created swearing-in ceremony of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren at Roxbury Community College on Saturday attracted many of the state’s highest ranking elected officials, including U.S. Senator John Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick as well as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan. (Patrick O’Connor photo)
If one can judge the trajectory of a person’s career based on their initial actions on the job, then Elizabeth Warren is in for a successful career as Massachusetts’ first woman elected to serve in the United States Senate.
Joining the 113th Congress in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 3, Warren began her new vocation with a simple but significant act — she kept her word.
This past Saturday, Warren returned to Roxbury Community College to hold a re-enactment of her swearing-in ceremony in an effort to give residents of Boston — and Roxbury-area residents in particular — the chance to witness the historic event, and also to make good on the promise she made to never forget the community or its people.
“I wanted to hold the ceremony here because Roxbury Community College matters,” said Warren. “It’s the jewel of Roxbury and it has a tangible impact on the community. I believe in building opportunity for all of our kids and that’s what’s happening at RCC. That’s why I wanted to be there with a Supreme Court Justice and the Congressman and the Governor ... because I wanted them to all be there to acknowledge what RCC stands for.”
The ceremony, which featured Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan acting as the administrator of the swearing-in, also drew a host of elected representatives including: U.S. Sen. John Kerry, Gov. Deval Patrick, former Congressman Barney Frank, Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Senate President Therese Murray, and U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano, Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch, along with other notable guests.
Also among those who attended the ceremony was Roxbury resident and District 7 Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson, who was instrumental to Warren’s community outreach during the early stages of her campaign.
“I take people not only at their word, but also for their actions,” said Councillor Jackson. “Elizabeth Warren said she wouldn’t forget us and she put those words into action by holding her swearing-in ceremony in Roxbury at Roxbury Community College. There are 350 other cities and towns where she could have held it, and at least 20 other neighborhoods.
“I feel encouraged and I feel that she’s shown respect by honoring RCC and Roxbury in this way,” Councillor Jackson continued. “And, not only did she come back, but she brought a Supreme Court Justice with her. In my lifetime I have not experienced an event such as this one.”
Jackson was emphatic about Warren’s future and that of the community she has adopted.
“She will be an outstanding senator who fights for the people of Roxbury, who face very real and difficult circumstances every day, and she will bring back resources as well as put forth a legislative framework that will encourage growth, opportunity, jobs and economic development as well as economic justice.”
Looking back on the returns from Election Night, 2012, it’s clear that Roxbury feels likewise about Warren, as it helped her to achieve her victory over incumbent Scott Brown during what was, at times, a bruising and exacting race filled with below-the-belt politics.
In the final tallies, Warren defeated Brown 54 percent to 46 percent across the state, but Boston carried her in a landslide – 74 to 26 percent.
In a continuation of that support, the crowd attending the event grew large enough to require event planners to utilize another space to accommodate the overflow.
It was, said interim RCC President Linda Edmonds Turner, a welcome “problem” to have.
“It was a wonderful program,” said Turner. “By holding her ceremony here at RCC, Senator Warren was able to reach out to not just the college, but to the entire community of Roxbury — everyday people, folks from all walks of life. And, it was great that she acknowledged that many of her supporters were from Roxbury and other communities that are not necessarily high-income, but very important nonetheless.”
By Turner’s account, that Warren chose Roxbury and RCC as the location for her event was significant in and of itself. But, the fact that she stayed on campus long after the ceremony’s conclusion, taking photographs and talking with visitors until the last person in line was able to meet her, bodes well for her future in office and for that of the community.
“She’ll do very well,” Turner said. “You could just see how proud everyone was that she came back and how happy she was to be here. She was here before the event started at one o’clock and she stayed after the event until five-thirty, six o’clock talking and taking pictures with everyone.”
One knowledgeable supporter spoke enthusiastically about the potential impact that Warren could have on community colleges and the community as a whole.
“The significance of Senator Warren’s choice of location for her event is huge,” said Richard Freeland, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “It represents a clear recognition of Roxbury Community College as a major educational institution. It’s also significant that the first female senator from Massachusetts chose RCC, because it represents a commitment to diversity in all of its dimensions and a commitment to advancing that diversity. She is going to be a first-class representative for Massachusetts, and for the citizens of Roxbury.”