Mayor Thomas M. Menino says he’s proud of improving Boston’s reputation on race

Boston, MA--5/1/2013--Mayor Thomas M. Menino (cq) gives the keynote address during the Boston College Citizen Seminar luncheon, of the Chief Executives' Club of Boston, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Photos by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: 02menino Reporter: Andrew Ryan
Mayor Menino, shown at an event earlier this year, has only 77 days left in office. Credit: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

LOWELL – With 77 days left after two decades presiding over the city, Mayor Thomas M. Menino reflected today on his legacy, saying his greatest achievement was changing Boston’s reputation for being a bitterly racist city to one of prizing diversity.

At a forum here at the University of Massachusetts, Menino said, “I think I brought people together more than before.”

“Boston was a real racist city at one point,” he said. “You don’t read about that anymore. We gave opportunity to a lot of people in our city that didn’t have opportunity in the past.”

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For the first time publicly, he also spoke about what he plans to do after he leaves office.

He said he had received offers to lecture and organize conferences at Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Suffolk University. “I’ll make a decision in the next couple of weeks,” he said, joking that he has received a number of bowties since Harvard awarded him an honorary doctorate in June. “I haven’t made a deal yet, so nobody is the front runner. I’m a mercenary right now.”

He said he would not take a job on the state payroll and won’t work as a lobbyist. He added that he has received job offers in the private sector that would pay him a lot of money, but that he had turned those down.

Whatever he does, he said, he wants to work with young people, have more flexibility, and have fun.

“This isn’t about money,” he said. “I want to do something for kids.”

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