A New Day: Kim Janey Becomes First Female and the First Black Mayor of Boston

On Monday District 7 City Councilor Kim Janey became the first woman and the first Black mayor in the city’s history after former Boston Mayor Martin Walsh was confirmed by the Senate to become U.S. Secretary of Labor. 

Janey will be officially sworn in as the 55th Mayor of Boston on Wednesday, March 24. 

Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey.

Janey became acting mayor at 9:01 p.m. Monday night after Walsh submitted his resignation letter. Janey thanked Walsh in a statement for his service. 

“Congratulations on your confirmation, Secretary Walsh,” said Janey. “You are a proud son of Dorchester who will bring our city with you to the United States Department of Labor. The working people of America will benefit greatly from your passion. Now, we look ahead to a new day — a new chapter — in Boston’s history.”

As Walsh heads down to Washington D.C., he paused to congratulate his successor Monday. 

“Congratulations on making history, Kim Janey,” said Walsh. “I know you are going to continue serving our city and supporting an equitable recovery from COVID-19. I am always here for you, my friend.”

Walsh said the two exchanged texts Monday with Walsh texting, ‘Think about this for a minute: A little girl from Roxbury is about to become mayor of Boston.” Walsh said her response was, ‘Think about this for a minute: A little boy from Dorchester is about to become the … labor secretary of the United States of America. What an amazing city we live in.”

Since Walsh was nominated as Secretary of Labor, Janey has been laser focused on transitioning into the role as Mayor of Boston. Under the city charter, Boston’s City Council President assumes the role of Mayor until an election can be held. 

Janey hopes to continue to lead Boston through the COVID-19 pandemic with a citywide agenda for recovery, reopening and renewal.  Janey’s pandemic recovery priorities include distributing vaccines effectively, returning children to school safely, and centering disadvantaged workers and businesses in the City’s economic recovery. Janey is committed to ensuring the City of Boston reopens safely and equitably, with relief and renewal in every neighborhood.

Janey is a fourth-generation Roxbury resident and her family includes a long line of educators, entrepreneurs, artists, and advocates. She said she was raised with values that have guided her to this day: the importance of education, the power of community organizing, and the fundamental principles of equity and justice.

Janey became a mother in high school and worked hard to give her daughter everything she needed to succeed. She began her advocacy on behalf of children inspired by the interconnection of her own daughter’s experiences with those of other children. 

In her role at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Janey championed systemic policy reforms to increase equity, excellence, access, and opportunity in Boston Public Schools. She placed a special focus on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps for children of color, immigrant children, students who are learning English, children with special needs, and those living in poverty.

After attending the New School for Children, her parents enrolled Janey in Boston Public Schools. In middle school she had rocks and racial slurs thrown at her during the tumultuous busing era. Later, Janey attended Reading Public Schools through the METCO program, where she was one of two Black students in her graduating class. Janey went on to attend Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar, but withdrew to care for her grandfather.

Prior to becoming Mayor, Janey made history in 2017 when she was elected to the Boston City Council as the first woman to represent District 7, which includes Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester, and the Fenway. In 2020, she was elected by her peers as President of the Boston City Council. 

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