Mayor’s discussions on race to start next Saturday

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Mayor Marty Walsh.
Mayor Marty Walsh.

The city will launch the first in a yearlong series of race discussions Nov. 19 in an effort to help Boston heal from its divisive history and become "a more socially cohesive and resilient city,'' officials said.

Invitations were sent Thursday for the event at Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. Other conversations are slated for different neighborhoods throughout next year.

"Please join in the discussion, as Mayor Martin J. Walsh invites residents to talk about racism in Boston, the scars it has left, and how we acknowledge our past,'' read the invitation.

At next Saturday's event, Walsh and his team will reveal plans for the discussions, which aim to establish small and facilitated conversations about racism, policy, and healing in all of the city's neighborhoods, the invitation said.


Since the year began, Walsh's team has been having closed-door sessions on Boston's racial climate with white, black, Asian, and Latino advocates and politicos.

He has made race a focal point of his administration and took the unusual step last month to challenge business leaders to establish a workforce and leadership structure that better reflects the city's demographics, which are mostly nonwhite.

"These disparities are rooted in history and continue presenting barriers to opportunities today,'' he told the business leaders at the annual Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce meeting. "That means it's not enough to have color-blind policies. And it's not enough to have good intentions."

Walsh, himself, has also faced pressure from the minority community to boost the number of black and Latino hires in his administration. A Globe analysis of recent payroll data found that while the mayor has increased diversity since taking office, he is short of his promise to build a municipal workforce that mirrors the city.

The Walsh administration said diversity among city employees has been a top priority and noted a new recruiting system and job fairs in Mattapan, Roxbury, Grove Hall, and other areas that are home, predominantly, to people of color.


Walsh came into office promising a citywide dialogue on race. In speeches and at community gatherings, he vowed to help lift up some of the city's low-income communities through jobs, innovation, and development.

The city got a boost in 2014 when the Rockefeller Foundation tapped Boston as one of the 100 Resilient Cities. The designation provided a grant to hire a chief resiliency officer to lead the race talks.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.