Janey Jolts History As Boston’s First Black Female Mayor


Kim Janey makes history as both the first person of color and first woman to serve as mayor. (Source: Kim Janey)

Acting Mayor Kim Janey will become the first Black female Mayor of Boston following the appointment of former Mayor Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden.

Prior to her current position as interim mayor, Acting Mayor Janey served as the president of the Boston City Council. Recently elected to her role in January 2020, she is a known advocate for providing resources to the children of Boston, with an emphasis on establishing equity within education.

In the past, Janey has directly supported the Boston Latin School community, publicly promoting the #BlackAtBLS campaign in 2016. She also contributed to the addition of a diversity officer and mandatory implicit bias training within BLS. Furthermore, Acting Mayor Janey took part in writing the 2016 Boston Public Schools (BPS) policy, which outlines reform for closing the achievement gap among students.

Regarding how Kim Janey’s mayorship could impact BPS students, Ms. Cheralyn Pinchem, BLS history teacher and a personal friend of Acting Mayor  Janey, states, “Her changes will be based on her experience as a student wanting to make sure that the system is preserved, and I don’t see her making drastic changes within the next eight months.”

Students, however, are expecting many education-related changes, given that Acting Mayor Janey has called for the reformation of the BPS education system in the past. Kristiana Dycaj (III) anticipates that Janey will take steps to reform the exam school system to provide racial equity for exam school students.

Acting Mayor Janey has not disclosed whether she will run in the regular mayoral election yet, but she will hold the interim position until November 2021. If former Mayor Walsh resigns before March 5, Boston will hold a special election 120 to 140 days from that date instead.

Mr. Trevour Smith, BLS math teacher, expresses his thoughts: “Idealistically, I hope [Acting Mayor ] Janey will be interim mayor, and then return to City Council President and allow [the other candidates] Campbell and Wu to run.”

The upcoming mayoral race is between City Councilors Michelle Wu and BLS alumna, Andrea Campbell, two women of color who have emphasized progressive platforms. Both have been City Council Presidents in the past and have had the same amount of experience within city government.

Miggy Antonio (I) predicts that a moderate challenger announcing their bid for mayorship could win the whole election, “Just because Wu and Campbell have the same voter base […] and are both running under pretty much the same platform. I think what will be most crucial in this election is how strong Wu or Campbell will be able to appeal to the more moderate voters.”

After describing Wu and Campbell as two dynamic candidates, Ms. Pinchem assumes that if Acting Mayor Janey does decide to run for Boston City Mayor alongside Wu and Campbell, it will make the race even more competitive. In order to decide, voters will be forced to look beyond the surface of what these three stand for, and to consider the specific details as to how they plan to serve Boston.

In October, Campbell spoke with BLS Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge about the importance of voting. The club would like to organize a discussion with Campbell again; they are currently considering hosting a forum for Campbell and Wu, fostering conversation and discussion within the larger student body about the election and how it will impact BPS students.

Despite the majority of BLS students not being able to vote, Mr. Smith still believes that initiating dialogue with a younger audience may work in favor of those running for mayor. He says, “Whoever does the best at listening to the youth, meaning 17-24-year-olds, will win the race because you all are the future, and you are going to have the power.”

With the anticipated mayoral campaigns of Wu and Campbell, the impact of women of color within politics can only be expected to increase. City-wide residents look up to the capabilities of these women, eagerly awaiting the promising future which they will bring to the city of Boston.