Boston – The Boston Foundation today announced that former Boston Mayor Kim Janey, the first woman mayor in the city’s history, will be joining the Foundation as an Executive in Residence, for a 12-month appointment beginning in March 2022. Mayor Janey will work closely with Boston Foundation President and CEO M. Lee Pelton on a project to document, preserve and build greater awareness of important historical landmarks in Boston’s Black and Brown neighborhoods. The project will be an element of the Foundation’s strategy to support and inspire the ongoing cultural transformation toward equity and justice.
“We cannot truly repair the systemic inequities in our city and build a new Boston without more fully cataloging the landmarks that have served as centers of community and place, particularly in our Black, Asian and Latino neighborhoods, over the course of Boston’s history,” notes Pelton. “With a background in Boston’s neighborhoods that predates her historic tenure as Mayor, Kim Janey has the experience, connections, and commitment to play a powerful role in elevating these places and highlight the need for their preservation for the future.”
As part of the process, Mayor Janey will work with foundation staff and others to document landmarks with particular attention toward those that have disappeared or are under threat of disappearance, using them as one part of a learning agenda to dismantle historic and systemic inequities and to develop a broader cultural transformation strategy to protect and leverage their visibility within Boston’s history.
“My own historic moment as the first woman and person of color to serve as Boston Mayor would not have been possible without the work of so many others who came before me,” said Janey. “But too much of that work has been rendered invisible through carelessness, indifference, or intentional destruction, and much of the rest is still under threat. I look forward to taking on this project, connecting Boston’s rich past of leaders of color to our present moment and the potential of our future.”
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I welcome Mayor Janey to the Foundation to take on this important project,” said Linda Mason, Chair of the Boston Foundation Board. “Understanding, celebrating and preserving these places, and recognizing the contributions that Bostonians of all races and ethnicities have made to our city’s history is a critical step toward creating a more equitable place for all residents in the future.”
Mayor Janey’s project will proceed alongside King Boston’s efforts to craft a tribute to Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King on the Boston Common while establishing a Center for Economic Justice in the city to capture and uplift the values of justice and equity espoused by the Kings during their time in Boston. The sculpture, “The Embrace,” will be dedicated on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2023. The sculpture itself will be surrounded by the 1965 Freedom Plaza, which will highlight the names of dozens of local leaders of color whose work advanced the call for equity and justice during the Civil Rights Era.
Throughout the fall and winter, King Boston has accepted public nominations for recognition on the 1965 Freedom Plaza, both online and through dropboxes at a number of Boston Public Library branches and houses of worship. Groundbreaking for the sculpture is slated for late April, in conjunction with what would be Coretta Scott King’s 95th birthday.