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Mayoral candidates confront racism in Boston head-on

Mayoral candidates John R. Connolly and Martin J. Walsh spoke at a debate hosted by the Urban League of Massachusetts in Roxbury. They have discussed race, a topic that had been considered too controversial for some time.
Mayoral candidates John R. Connolly and Martin J. Walsh spoke at a debate hosted by the Urban League of Massachusetts in Roxbury. They have discussed race, a topic that had been considered too controversial for some time.Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe

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It was a statement that made some recoil and others nod in recognition: Racism exists in Boston.

Both mayoral candidates said it during televised debates, not once, but twice. And it appeared to undercut what the outgoing mayor has proclaimed as his greatest achievement: the healing of Boston’s festering racial wounds.

For black, Latino, and Asian activists fighting to ensure that Boston’s disenfranchised communities have a seat at the table, racism and its structural and institutional vestiges are a very real fact of life. State Representative Martin J. Walsh and Councilor at Large John R. Connolly began talking about racism in major public forums in the last two weeks, first at a debate broadcast by Boston Neighborhood Network Television, then at a more widely aired debate.

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