Boston mayoral hopefuls pause to note significance of March on Washington’s 50th anniversary

Several candidates running to replace longtime Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino took time on Wednesday to note the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Many of the hopefuls took to social media or released statements noting the day’s significance and the progress the country has made in addressing its history of racial inequality.

Former State Representative Charlotte Golar Richie noted that progress has been made, but stressed that many areas—such as poverty, homelessness, joblessness, incarceration, and gun violence—still must be addressed.

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“If Dr. King were here today, he’d have to marvel over the election of President Obama – and our own Governor Patrick – and the tremendous gains we’ve seen in politics, business, the arts, entertainment, and in other fields,” Golar Richie said in a statement. “Yet he’d, no doubt, bemoan the fact that we, as a society, have lost ground in other areas.”

State Representative Martin Walsh seized on the anniversary to decry a recent Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act.

“As we celebrate the trailblazers who marched on Washington 50 years ago, let’s not forget that there is still much work to be done,” Walsh said in a statement. “Things in Boston are better than they are in some places but we don’t, as some would try to have us believe, live in a society where race does not matter.”

City Councilor Felix Arroyo tweeted updates and photos from multiple events commemorating the anniversary, later adding a quote from King:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Multiple candidates, including Arroyo and John Barros, former Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative executive director, posted photos from an anniversary march held in Boston.

City Councilor Mike Ross tweeted: “50 years later, and we still need to work to make Dr. King’s dream a reality,” in an update that linked to a video of the famous speech.

Meanwhile, Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley announced that he will soon unveil a comprehensive jobs plan, taking special note to include economic disparities between white and minorities residents.

The promise of a full-fledged jobs plan stressed economic inequalities still faced by minorities living in Boston.

“On this the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech, it is fitting and appropriate that a portion of Dan Conley’s jobs plan, that which speaks most directly to his commitment to closing employment and poverty gaps in communities of color in Boston, be shared today,” the campaign said in the announcement.

Income inequality was a major focus of many of King’s speeches, including the “I Have A Dream” address.

According to the Boston Health Commission, unemployment still varies significantly among residents of different races. For instance, white male unemployment sits at 9 percent in the city, while Latino males are twice as likely to be unemployed (19 percent), and black males are more than three times as likely to be out of work (32 percent).