A new coalition of civil rights and community organizations plans to hold mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh accountable for campaign promises about creating a more inclusive administration, bringing business to struggling neighborhoods, and moving aggressively to close the achievement gap among students.
The group, calling itself The Inclusive Boston Alliance, is developing a score card to scrutinize the creation and implementation of education, public safety, employment, and economic development policies. The group plans to conduct status checks after the first 100 days of Walsh’s administration and again at the six-month, one-year, two-year, and four-year marks.
“Access, opportunity, and results have to be the building blocks of the Walsh administration,” said Michael Curry, president of the Boston Branch NAACP, one of the organizations involved in the alliance. “That’s what communities of color voted for.”
The alliance, which plans to formally announce its intentions Friday, includes the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the Commonwealth Compact at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and MassVOTE. These and several other community and civil rights groups came together during the campaign and held two debates focused on issues affecting communities of color.
Walsh said in a statement that diversity was an issue that came up in every city neighborhood during the campaign and that he welcomes any partnership that supports that cause.
“I promised that a Walsh administration will be reflective of the city of Boston, and I’ve made that a priority in our transition work,” he said. “I look forward to working with this coalition.”
Walsh’s transition team has six cochairs, and three of whom are people of color: Charlotte Golar Richie, John F. Barros, and Felix G. Arroyo , all onetime mayoral hopefuls.
Boston is a diverse city, with about 53 percent of residents identifying as a race or ethnicity other than white, and the road to City Hall led through the heart of the city and its southernmost neighborhoods, home to many of the city’s black and Latinos communities.
As Walsh courted voters in communities of color, promises were made about being more attentive to the needs and issues of those neighborhoods.
He vowed to make City Hall reflect the city, with about half of cabinet appointees being people of color. He promised to use the mayor’s bully pulpit to challenge the business community to be more inclusive. He said it is crucial that businesses owned by women and people of color be involved with development deals from their start.
Voters in communities of color played a decisive role in propelling Walsh to victory. Without their votes, he would not have been elected the 48th mayor of Boston.
“We want results for our community,” said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, executive director of MassVOTE, a voting rights organization. “We really want someone to do what they say they were going to do.”
To ensure that campaign rhetoric becomes reality, coalition leaders said the new alliance will be both a resource and a watchdog.
“It’s important for this not to fall off the radar,” said Georgianna Meléndez, executive director of the Commonwealth Compact, a statewide diversity initiative. “Folks will say things and do things that are the right thing to say at the time, but then get bombarded by competing priorities.”
Does investment in small businesses of color get moved down the priority list as employee contracts are negotiated? Does diversity in city contracts and employing more teachers and police officers of color take a back seat to the ever-evolving casino issue?
The group said it feels strongly that Walsh intends to deliver on his campaign promises and was heartened that Walsh turned to Golar Richie, Barros, and Arroyo — the three candidates of color who received the most votes in the preliminary election — to take part in his transition team.
That shows he is receptive and not threatened by issues of inclusion and diversity, Curry said. “However,” he added, “the challenge is how do you make it happen.”
The individuals and organizations in the coalition represent a range of perspectives, networks, and experience.
The alliance said it wants to be a resource for the Walsh administration, helping strategic initiatives come to fruition and assuring applicant pools are filled with diverse, and qualified, candidates. Commonwealth Compact, for example, has an online database dubbed the “talent network” with resumes of more than 600 professionals of color.
The diversity benchmarks on the score card represent an opportunity for collaboration, the alliance said. The benchmarks provide the community with a way to keep pace with the administration’s progress, and are a way for the administration to share its progress.
Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said Walsh has an opportunity to “build a better, more inclusive Boston, and we offer our full support.”
At the same time, he said, the alliance will be watching.