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John Connolly, Marty Walsh go toe-to-toe in Boston community of color debate

Shanice Maxwell | 10/30/2013, 12:59 p.m.
Councilor at Large John Connolly and state Rep. Marty Walsh (L-R) listen attentively as moderator Liz Walker guides them through a debate on Oct. 23. Bryan Trench

Though race and diversity weren’t on the agenda both found it necessary to comment on it; 53 percent of Boston’s residents are of color.

Both agreed that inequalities have existed in the city’s communities of color for far too long.

“We need to talk more about racism. We need to talk more about institutional, systemic racism and the role it plays in our society,” said Connolly. “Communities of color don’t need to talk about it so much; you live it every day. White Bostonians need to talk about it. That’s the one thing that Mayor Walsh or Mayor Connolly can get done.”

Walsh shared that his many visits to the Boston Redevelopment Authority often resulted in him seeing and interacting with “people in the hallways [who] looked like me.”

“We need to change that,” he said.

The forum was sponsored by the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, Boston NAACP, UMass Boston, Commonwealth Compact, Coalition of Community Groups, Right to the City, Future Boston, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, MassVOTE, Boston Neighborhood Network, Families for Justice as Healing, Project Right, Mothers for Justice and Equality, Asian American Resource Workshop, Boston Workers Alliance, Jack and Jill of America, The Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, Mattapan Square Main Streets and Mattapan United.

Most interviewed by The Banner afterwards said they expected to leave knowing whom they would vote for — but left with the same uncertainty they walked in with. Others were disappointed there were not any candidate-audience interactions during the forum and topics of violence and safety were not on the agenda.

Still, an overwhelming amount of attendees were thankful to have another debate specifically geared toward people of color and to hear both mayoral candidates address issues that directly impact their community.