Mayor Walsh today named Karilyn Crockett, currently a lecturer in urban affairs at MIT as the city's first chief of equity and inclusion, whose goal with be to get the city's minority residents a fairer shake at getting ahead.
Crockett, who was born in Dorchester and who attended Boston schools before going to Yale to earn three degrees, including a doctorate in American studies, knows about the struggle firsthand from her family - her grandmother was one of the plaintiffs in the 1972 federal suit that led to the 1974 school-desegregation case.
After being introduced by the mayor at a City Hall press conference this afternoon, Crockett began by noting Boston sits on land once occupied by the Massachusett tribe.
And she said Boston City Hall has for too long been a haven for racism and exclusion, mirroring that of the city as a whole. "What good is it to hear you live in a prosperous and thriving city" where racism and exclusion keep you from a better life, she asked. She said her family came north to Boston in search of a better life, but instead found a city "closed to their dreams, their abilities and their needs."
Busing, she said, was "a fiery state of crisis." Today we are in another fiery state of both a pandemic and continued discrimination, she continued.
She added that one difference between now and the 1970s, when the elected School Committee repeatedly rejected calls for not just desegregation but equal funding and supplies for schools serving Black neighborhoods, is the willingness of government actually help and join in. "Mr. Mayor, welcome to the conversation," she said.
Crockett will oversee several existing City Hall programs aimed at minority and immigrant residents in an attempt to bring an "equity lens" to all city departments and programs. Before going to MIT, she spent two years as director of small-business development for Mayor Walsh.
Even as she spoke, a City Council committee was looking at continued low involvement of minority and women-owned businesses in the market for city contracts.