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Multi-racial coalition throws weight behind Janey

Right To The City Vote backs acting mayor in Nubian Square endorsement

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Multi-racial coalition throws weight behind Janey
Acting Mayor Kim Janey joins Right to the City VOTE activists in Nubian Square. BANNER PHOTO

Right to the City Vote Boston, a coalition of community-based organizations led by people of color, threw its weight behind acting Mayor Kim Janey during an endorsement event Saturday morning in Nubian Square.

“When Mayor Janey wins, communities of color win,” said RTTCV member Armani White. “When Mayor Janey wins, Black and brown people who have been the most impacted win.”

Dozens of supporters from the hospitality workers union Unite Here Local 26, along with members of Chinese Progressive Association Political Action, the immigrant rights group Mijente and other people-of-color-led groups, turned out for the endorsement and pledged to knock on doors and make phone calls on Janey’s behalf.

Janey and at-large Councilor Michelle Wu have been leading in the polls consistently since former Mayor Martin Walsh announced his departure to serve as secretary of the Department of Labor in the Biden administration. At Saturday’s endorsement event, activists cited what they said was Janey’s record of advocacy on social justice issues in their decision to back the acting mayor.

Many of those present at the event cited personal relationships with Janey in their decision to back her.

Longtime Chinatown activist Suzanne Lee (center). PHOTO: Lauren Miller

“I know in a personal level, Kim Janey is our candidate,” said former school principal Suzanne Lee, a longtime Chinatown activist. “I have worked with her in advocating on multiple years, and multiple issues, particularly around providing opportunity for our children in the Boston Public Schools.”

Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo recalled Janey interceding on behalf of 50 workers who were fired from jobs at Hotel Nine Zero Boston.

“Mayor Janey not only invited those workers into City Hall, but she picked up the phone and she called the management and demanded that there be a solution that day,” Aramayo said. “That day, those 50 workers got their jobs back, and that’s what it means to be a mayor and to be a politician who doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk and puts themselves on the line.”

Right to the City Vote represents the largest grouping of people-of-color-led organizations in Boston. The group harkens back to the Rainbow Coalition, a group of Black, Latino, Asian and progressive white organizations and individuals who backed former state Rep. Melvin King’s 1983 bid for mayor and backed candidates for School Committee and City Council.

Since the 1980s, people of color have grown from a minority of the city’s population to a majority and are increasingly flexing their voting power. In this year’s mayoral election, all contenders identify as people of color — a scenario that guarantees that for the first time ever, the city will elect a mayor who is not a white man.

Vanessa Snow, an organizer with Mijente Boston, stressed the importance of communities of color working together.

“It’s going to take the unity of all of us, across neighborhood, across race, across generations, and we’re going to keep that unity going past September 14, past November,” she said. “We’re going to all be a part of making the city the city that we deserve — one that stands up for workers, that stands up for people of color, that keeps our communities together in their homes.”

Janey, in her remarks, stressed her working-class roots, citing her family’s displacement from the South End as that neighborhood gentrified and her childhood growing up in public housing in Roxbury.

“I understand the challenges that the residents of Boston are facing, not because of some fancy degree, but because I have lived them,” she said.

She pledged to continue fighting for families facing displacement in the city’s overheated housing market.

“What happened to my family in the South End is happening in Chinatown, is happening in East Boston, is happening in Roxbury,” she said. “And it’s impacting all of us. The city that I grew up in is no longer affordable to a large portion of residents in our city.”

Janey pledged to work for equity in the city, to improve public education and fight for better public transportation in Boston.

“We know these issues, these challenges, are longstanding — years, decades, centuries in the making,” she said. “But I see these obstacles as opportunities. These stumbling blocks are stepping-stones for us to build a better Boston for all of us, and we do that by standing together and working together.”

Janey has received endorsements from SEIU 32BJ, a local union representing janitors, and SEIU 888, which represents city workers. The union endorsements, along with those representing community organizing groups, could provide Janey’s campaign with scores of volunteers who can knock on doors, identify voters and turn them out on Election Day.

Wu was endorsed last week by Progressive West Roxbury and has received the backing of groups including Sunrise Boston, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Unite Here New England Joint Board and the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 6, AFL-CIO.

While members of Jamaica Plain Progressives were present and the group’s executive committee voted to endorse Janey, the membership of the group is still in the process of voting on an endorsement.

Armani White, Chinese Progressive Association, kim janey, Mi Gente, Right To The City Vote Boston, Suzanne Lee, Unite Here Local 26, Vanessa Snow