John Barros, Boston mayoral candidate, makes the personal political

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It was the last question at the end of a long day campaigning, of talking with youth in Codman Square, demonstrating with Boston fast-food workers, and meeting with the South End Business Alliance.

But that question, posed by a young man in a Jamaica Plain art gallery, encapsulated so much of what inspired John Barros to change the system, first from the outside as a community organizer and now, he hopes, from inside, as mayor.

The nine-minute response from Barros was part stump speech, part fiery protest sermon, part brotherly advice. But it was also totally authentic, something of a political gamble when moving the conversation from diversity issues within the Boston Police Department, a hot topic on the trail, to his personal experience of finding empowerment through engagement, education, and employment.

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