In a ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Kim Janey was sworn in as the first Black person and first woman to lead the City of Boston, a day after Mayor Marty Walsh left for Washington D.C. following his confirmation as US Labor Secretary.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley presided over the ceremony, which was attended by Janey’s friends and family, while Chief Justice Kimberly Budd administered the oath of office. An invocation was delivered by Reverend Willie Bodrick II, Senior Pastor at the Twelflth Baptist Church. Pressley was the first woman of color on the Boston City Council and Massachusetts’ first Black Congresswoman, and Budd was the first Black woman to become Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
“It is a great day, another history making day in an unprecedented week in the City of Boston,” Pressley said in her remarks.
Pressley called Janey a “fierce advocate on behalf of our children and education equity,” and said that “this is a proud day for the City of Boston and all Bostonians.”
Janey was the first woman and first Black person to become the District 7 City Councilor, eventually becoming the City Council president. According to City Councilor Matt O’Malley’s office, O’Malley has now become City Council President Pro Tempore as he was previously the vice president.
“She will lead with clear eyes, a fully heart, and a steady hand as we begin with the reconstruction of our city that this city and our country ache for,” Pressley said of Janey.
“Today is a new day,” Janey said in her speech. “I stand before you as the first woman and first Black mayor of Boston, the city that I love. I come to this day with life experience that is different from the men who came before me.”
Janey thanked her her family for their support over the years.
“As a girl growing up in Boston I was nurtured by a family who believed in me and surrounded by good neighbors who knew my name,” she said.
She spoke of her experience being bussed to her school in the 1970s as a pre-teen during the effort to desegregate Boston Public Schools.
“I had rocks and racial slurs thrown at my bus, for simply attending school while Black,” she said.
She said that she has always been an active supporter of quality public education for all students, especially as a young mother herself who wanted the best public education for her daughter. “This issue is personal to me,” she said.
“As I assume the responsibilities of mayor of Boston, I promise to give you bold, courageous leadership,” she said, adding that she will be “starting with an unrelenting focus to address the impacts of COVID-19.”
Janey said that she will “fight” to ensure that vaccines are accessible for all, “especially in communities hardest hit” by the virus, as well as work to expand testing across the city.
Additionally, “our recovery must include working together on behalf of our children,” she said, by reopening schools in a safe way and ensuring that teachers get vaccinated.
She said she has plans to invest in summer opportunities for students and partner with the superintendent and other groups to “help our children recover academically and emotionally.”
Janey said that the pandemic has only made existing inequalities and gaps “worse,” and that action needs to be taken.
Janey mentioned the disparity study that was recently published, saying that it “showed the enormous inequality in our city contracts.” She said that “as mayor, I will take action to solve this problem with new creative solutions to boost city contracts with minority business enterprises and new strategies to hold ourselves accountable.”
She also spoke about racial justice in the city and the work she plans on doing on that front.
“Dismantling systemic racism also includes reforming how we police our city. As mayor, I will continue to be an advocate and lead the implementation of these reforms. Together, working with our police department, I am determined to bring safety, healing and justice to all of our neighborhoods.”
Janey said that there is “more work to do,” and “that work starts now.” She thanked her transition team and the city staff for their work so far.
“To the people of Boston, I say you have a stake in our city’s future,” Janey said. “You are the essential part of this recovery. Let’s not be afraid to tackle the longer-term challenges that we face together. From racial justice to environmental justice; from affordable housing to our transit system. From our public schools, to public safety. We cannot go back. Our only option is to go better.”