In her first year and a half Roxbury Community College President Valerie Roberson closed the school’s longstanding budget deficit, brought the college into compliance with federal financial aid regulations and began a $19 million overhaul of the school’s buildings. This year, Roberson plans to chart a course for the future with the release of a visioning plan she led with faculty, staff, students and residents and stakeholders in the Roxbury community.
The Walsh administration’s first Workforce Profile Report contained few surprises. Released last week, the report underscored the challenges the city faces in maintaining a workforce that mirrors the city’s majority-minority population. While whites make up 46 percent of Boston’s population, they hold 58 percent of city jobs. Blacks, Latinos and Asians are underrepresented in the higher-paying jobs in city government.
As two firms vie for the right to redevelop a long-vacant property, one developer’s refusal to commit to minority hiring and subcontracting goals provoked angry responses from Roxbury residents.
The History Makers, a Chicago-based nonprofit, has amassed recordings of more than 7,000 oral histories from African Americans in cities around the country. It is the largest African American story collection effort since the Works Progress Administration collected interviews with ex-slaves in the 1930s.
The Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee voted Monday to adopt a plan that would require developers building on publicly-owned land in Roxbury to commit to so-called living-wage standards for construction workers and for permanent jobs created by new construction projects. The body rejected by a narrow vote a proposal to require new businesses on publicly-owned parcels to commit to card-check neutrality — a provision requiring employers to commit to not blocking employees’ right to unionize.
A group of real estate specialists from the Urban Land Institute spend four days drilling down on major thoroughfare.
Last week, a team of city planners from the Urban Land Institute walked the mile from Egleston to Forest Hills as part of a planning exercise aimed at generating ideas for development along the corridor. The group presented their findings during a presentation in the Boston Redevelopment Authority Board Room to a group of city officials and neighborhood activists about the area’s potential, calling for large, transit-oriented development projects near Forest Hills and smaller in-fill projects between Williams Street and Egleston Square.
Shaun Blugh, who heads the Walsh administration’s newly established Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is working to recruit more blacks, Latinos and Asians into city government and increase the city’s contracting with firms owned by people of color.
DCF social workers say the agency needs to help reduce their burgeoning caseloads. While national standards for social workers recommend that they maintain no more than 15 cases a month, those assigned to the Dorchester office say they average 25 cases.
West Roxbury Academy, Community Academy in Jamaica Plain, and Middle School Academy in South Boston will remain open. The Elihu Greenwood School and the William B. Rogers Middle School, both in Hyde Park, will close.
Suffolk County District Attorney voiced his opposition to a growing movement to end mandatory minimum sentences in Massachusetts. Legislators, many judges and sheriffs are in support of repealing at least some of the mandatory sentencing guidelines.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast is more diverse now than ever before.
New building to include offices, retail space and residential units
The opening of the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building has significantly changed the face of Dudley Square. There’s a new Tropical Foods supermarket and other commercial projects are in the development pipeline, but none are as ambitious as the retail, office and residential development project being planned by a team of African American developers led by Ken Guscott.
While $2,000 a month may be too high for many long-time Boston residents, it’s now the norm for a three-bedroom apartment in Roxbury. With real estate values and rents rising rapidly in the Greater Boston area, Roxbury renters now must compete with those priced out of other neighborhoods. But next to the rental markets in Jamaica Plain, South Boston and the South End, Roxbury’s rents are still a bargain.
For the nearly two years that John McDonough has served as Interim Superintendent for the Boston Public Schools, the rising costs that have consistently outpaced revenues have kept him focused on two questions: How big will the budget gap become, and what has to get cut?
City councilors and community members gathered at City Hall last week to honor African American business and civic leaders as part of Black History Month.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is teaming up with U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) to launch the Middle Class Prosperity Project, an initiative aimed at developing legislative strategies to improve the economic prospects of American workers.
Drivers vow to hold parking spaces
Roxbury residents interviewed by the Banner showed little support for Mayor Martin Walsh’s directive for city workers to remove space savers from shoveled-out parking spaces that began Monday this week.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week that the Office of Access and Opportunity, which helps businesses owned by minorities, women, people with disabilities and veterans to secure contracts with state government, will now report directly to the Governor’s Office, a move widely seen as boosting the profile of the office.
City Councilor Charles Yancey’s move for a civilian review board to investigate police misconduct comes in the midst of a growing national awareness of police misconduct.
More than 700 activists march on State House, ask for funding increase
Youth advocates say without an increase in funding, more than a thousand youth jobs will be cut.
A pair of city councilors sparked controversy last week, advancing a measure that would allow patrons to bring their own liquor to restaurants in Boston
Winter storm Neptune, the third of an unprecedented series of storms, dropped more than a foot of snow on the Bay State last week, bringing MBTA service to a halt and sparking a spirited debate over investment in the state’s public transit system. After a pair of dueling press conferences exposed what appeared to be icy relations between MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott and Gov. Charlie Baker, Scott announced she will resign in April.
A new view of Roxbury
The Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building Open for Tours for Media.
Soledad O’Brien brought her documentary to UMass Boston, where she led panel discussions with economist and columnist Julianne Malveaux, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and UMass Boston Associate Professor of Africana Studies Aminah Pilgrim.
Members coordinate legislative initiatives
The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus has undergone a renaissance of sorts, with more members than at any point in its 42-year history and a level of coordination not seen in recent years.
Dan Cruz suffered through a two-year process that sided in favor of the officer.
After a police officer at a construction site screamed at Daniel Cruz in December, 2012, Cruz filed a complaint at Boston’s Area B-2 police station. Two years later, after multiple phone calls and letters to unresponsive police personnel and a drawn-out process that found in favor of the officer, Cruz wonders how the department’s complaint process could work for any civilians.
Uses multi-pronged approach to reach lagging students
Students visiting the Grove Hall nonprofit will be able to tap into a new BPS online learning system that will allow them to complete their coursework outside of school hours. The workstations are part of a multi-pronged effort Freedom House has undertaken to help students at risk of dropping out of high school.
Storms bring out best and worst in residents
Barely a week after Boston residents dug their way out of two feet of snow delivered by a punishing nor’easter, a second storm delivered another ten inches, a one-two punch that yielded the highest snowfall in a one-week span in the city’s recorded history.
State Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz (D, Jamaica Plain) and Rep. Mary Keefe (D, Worcester) are co-sponsoring legislation that would repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, reduce certain low-level felonies to misdemeanors and reinvest the savings from those reforms into job training, youth jobs and other programs aimed at workforce development.
A panel discussion on police abuse, sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the Myrtle Baptist Church, drew a large audience to RCC’s Media Arts Center auditorium to hear from five panelists, including Harvard Law Professor Sullivan, Harvard junior Colin Marts, community organizer Elizabeth Miranda, Boston Branch NAACP President Michael Curry and Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins.
HUD budget cuts jeopardize repair funding
After two decades of declining federal funding for the 63 developments in its portfolio, the Boston Housing Authority is looking for new funding sources to help maintain and, if possible, expand the number of affordable housing units available to low- and moderate-income Boston residents.
Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, the Community Development Corporation that built and manages the Villa Victoria housing development, is looking to expand affordable housing opportunities in the South End and Lower Roxbury as well as its programming for area youth.
Mayor Walsh touts gains in diversifying city leadership, pledges to work on education, housing issues
After a year in office, Mayor Martin Walsh has assembled a diverse cabinet and outlined plans to tackle some of the city’s more vexing problems, including a lack of affordable housing, educational inequality and poor relations between police and black and Latino youths.
Protesters block I-93, demonstrate in Downtown Boston
Last Thursday, demonstrators in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement stopped traffic on Interstate 93, chaining themselves to 1,200 pound concrete-filled barrels in an action that garnered international attention. Friday, members of the Massachusetts Legislative Black and Latino Caucus filed several bills aimed at making police accountable for stopping black motorists and pedestrians, and appointing outside investigators to probe police shootings and misconduct.
Diverse team faces daunting challenges
Sounding themes of fiscal restraint and government reform, Gov. Charlie Baker pledged to tackle some of the state’s more intractable problems — homelessness, educational disparities and opiate addiction — during his inaugural address last week.
Gov. Deval Patrick secured his place in Massachusetts history with a resounding victory over Republican candidate Kerry Healey in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, running on the theme, “together we can.” Over the next eight years, the state’s first black governor put his rhetoric of collaboration to the test, enlisting legislators, local officials and citizen activists in a series of ambitious initiatives that included everything from consolidating the polyglot of state agencies to comprehensive reform of the state’s criminal justice system.
Members of the Massachusetts Legislative Black and Latino Caucus are considering filing legislation that would require police to make data on stops public and issue receipts to pedestrians stopped.
A change of mayoral administrations, rapidly rising real estate values, looming threats of gentrification and the redevelopment of Dudley Square were among the major stories of the last year.
At the dawn of 2015, issues of race and racism are front and center in the national conversation. Demonstrators are taking to the streets and taking over shopping malls with Black Lives Matter protests that echo the Civil Rights Movement, whose urgency has been revived by a black director in the film, Selma.
A coalition of nonprofits and foundations has teamed up with state officials to launch a $5 million fund aimed keeping housing affordable in public transit-accessible neighborhoods.
With police practices facing scrutiny across the U.S., Massachusetts Legislative Black and Latino Caucus members are poised to push for a package of criminal justice system reform legislation aimed at promoting greater transparency and accountability in the state’s law enforcement agencies.
Dudley Skylab has been selected along with The Venture Café Foundation as operators of the Roxbury Innovation Center in the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Dudley Square, which is expected to open its doors within the next month.
As Black Lives Matter protests grab headlines, activists call for change in criminal justice system
In a policy change that could have profound implications for struggling homeowners, the nation’s largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have agreed to allow homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure to buy their properties back at current market value.
Activists gathered in Dorchester last week to talk about the displacement of long-term residents along the Fairmount Line corridor as rents and real estate prices climb.
The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials will hold its national meeting in Boston in July. Blacks, Latinos and Asians have made major gains in employment and leadership positions in the state’s public transportation agencies.
For the second week in a row, black America expressed shock and disbelief at a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for killing an unarmed black man. The protests and the national attention have added fuel to the Black Lives Matter movement, an informal, multi-racial network of activists across the U.S. who have been protesting a string of high-profile police shootings of unarmed blacks and the failure of the judicial system to hold police accountable.
Families for Excellent Schools, a group founded in New York, has been organizing parents in Boston since August.
In Boston and in cities across the United States protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against police violence against blacks, sparked by a grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Williams in the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown.
City and state officials cut the ribbon on a new teen center in Mattapan that features a recording studio and performance space.