What if Race No Longer Matters in City Politics? - NYTimes.com
The most significant development in the mayoral election in Boston earlier this month was hardly discussed: the absence of open racial animosity.
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
The new mayor, Martin Walsh, a white labor union leader, receivedcrucial backing from three minority candidates — Felix Arroyo, John Barros and Charlotte Golar Richie — who had been defeated in Boston’s version of a primary. Walsh has committed himself to filling at least half of his cabinet with African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.
Walsh’s Democratic opponent, John Connolly, who serves on the City Council, was just as liberal on matters of race. Connolly’s electoral problems lay in his more upscale background – he went to Roxbury Latin, a local private school, and then Harvard, before going to law school at Boston College and joining Ropes & Gray, a white shoe firm. This fancy background hurt him in comparison to Walsh’s leadership of Laborers Local 223 and of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District.
For someone familiar with Boston’s racial history, what stands out is how different the climate was on Nov. 5 from that of the 1960s and 1970s, when violence broke out in white neighborhoods as the city struggled with federal busing orders that sent African-American kids from Roxbury into lower-income Irish-American South Boston. Mobs of angry, rock-throwing whites lined the route to South Boston High.