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WAKANDA II endorses Janey for mayor

In an effort to unite Black voters behind a single candidate in Boston’s crowded mayoral race, an initiative that calls itself WAKANDA II has endorsed Acting Mayor Kim Janey.
In an effort to unite Black voters behind a single candidate in Boston’s crowded mayoral race, an initiative that calls itself WAKANDA II has endorsed Acting Mayor Kim Janey.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

In an effort to unite Black voters behind a single candidate in Boston’s crowded mayoral race, an initiative that calls itself WAKANDA II has endorsed Acting Mayor Kim Janey.

Members of the initiative gathered Saturday in Grove Hall to announce the endorsement publicly.

Dianne Wilkerson, a leader of the effort and a former state senator, said the goal was to identify a candidate who would “be responsive to the burning issues, critical issues for Black residents of Boston.” Wakanda is also the name of a fictional country ruled by a Black superhero in the 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther.”

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“Kim Janey was the clear choice,” Wilkerson said.

In a statement released by her campaign, Janey thanked WAKANDA II.

“For too long, too many of Boston’s Black and brown residents have been left behind — whether through the wealth gap, income inequality, health disparities or the housing crisis,” she said. “As the first woman and first Black Mayor of Boston, I am committed to making sure that Boston is the equitable city our residents want, need and deserve.”

Although census figures show about 65 percent of city residents identify as people of color, the upcoming election will be the first in Boston history that won’t result in a white man becoming mayor.

Also running are City Councilors Michelle Wu, who is Asian American; Andrea Campbell, who is Black; and Annissa Essaibi George, who is Arab American and Polish and identifies as a person of color; and former city economic chief John Barros, who is Black.

In March, Janey became the first woman and the first Black person to lead the city when she was elevated from City Council president to acting mayor following the departure of Martin J. Walsh, who became US labor secretary.

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During the endorsement process, all mayoral candidates answered questionnaires from WAKANDA II that inquired about key issues for Black and brown residents, including the pandemic, transportation, and education, Wilkerson said. The candidates also participated in virtual forums that the public could access online.

Wilkerson estimated about 500 city voters participated in WAKANDA II in some form, and a group of 11 undecided Black voters from about seven neighborhoods graded the questionnaires and ranked the candidates.

She said the group knows not all voters will back WAKANDA II in picking Janey, but she expressed confidence in the group’s process for endorsing a candidate that it believes will put Black Bostonians first.

The first WAKANDA effort targeted the 2018 Suffolk district attorney’s race, and coalesced support around Rachael Rollins, who won the seat.

Meghan Irons of the Globe staff contributed to this report.









Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.