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Mayor Wu announces members of Black Men and Boys Commission

"People want to see change, be a part of change, and feel that change.”

Boston's Mayor Michelle Wu at a February press conference where she appointed Frank Farrow as Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for Black Male Advancement. Jonathan Wiggs /The Boston Globe

Twenty-one community members are now officially part of the City of Boston’s Black Men and Boys Commission, a group designed to advise the mayor on issues pertaining to Black men and boys. 

Composed of leaders, experts, and residents, the commission is housed within the Mayor’s Office for Black Male Advancement. Mayor Michelle Wu welcomed the completed commission for the first time on May 19. 

“I couldn’t be prouder to stand with this incredible group of leaders and visionaries who are here to serve the city of Boston and to serve everyone in our communities,” Wu said. 

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The commission was established through a city ordinance sponsored by City Councilor At-Large Julia Meija in 2021 and signed by former Mayor Kim Janey. It was first proposed in 2014 by former District 7 City Council Tito Jackson, but was vetoed by then-Mayor Marty Walsh. 

“I’m excited to work alongside the commission to make sure that we move [the] lives and outcomes for Black men and boys in the City of Boston forward,” Frank Farrow, the executive director of the Office of Black Male Advancement, said Thursday. “We, of course, encourage the community to join us in this work. There’s only 21 commission members, but there’s plenty of work for everybody and it’s going to be collaborative, collective work that we are going to move and advance the lives of Black men and boys in the city.”

The members of the commission were chosen in a variety of ways: seven of the appointed are experts in the issues facing Black men and boys, seven were selected from 14 nominees submitted by Boston City Council, and the last seven were chosen from a pool of applicants. 

“All 21 of these members are here because of their commitment and demonstrated leadership in uplifting, celebrating, supporting community and making sure we keep moving forward,” Wu said. “This commission will first and foremost be community-grounded and community-oriented to ensure Black men and boys have a voice throughout our government.”

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City Councilor Brian Worrell said that change can only be accomplished with an investment of time, trust, and resources and put leaders in a position to make change. 

“From Buffalo to Boston, Black people are tired,” he said. “Tired of headline after headline showing senseless violence driven by white supremacy and guns in our streets, seeing widening divides around public health and public education and seeing their pain and the deeply entrenched legacy of racism our country was built on ignored. I hope that today we can write a different kind of headline in Boston. People want to see change, be a part of change, and feel that change.”

The commission also has two youth members, one of whom is Abdullah Beckett, a UMass Boston Student and chair of MBK-Umass Boston. He said he is honored to work with so many “amazing” and “inspiring” Black men. 

“One thing that I’ve realized is that excellence is all around us in our communities,” Beckett said. “But no one can do it alone. We all need support. We all need somebody to be there and say ‘I believe in you,’ but not just believe, put their money where their mouth is. The City of Boston is putting their money where their mouth is and we’re gonna make sure that it goes to where it needs to be going to. We are change makers. We are going to make sure the next generation and this current generation of Black men in the City of Boston feel secure, feel loved, and feel supported.”

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The commission’s first meeting will be June 1 at 6 p.m. in the Bruce C. Bolling Building in Nubian Square. After the first meeting, the Commission will meet on the first Wednesday of every month, with all meetings being open to the public, press, and posted online.

Later in the summer, the Commission will hold a community listening tour intended to gather data about the issues facing Black men and boys across Boston’s neighborhoods. In January 2023, the Commission will produce an annual report with recommendations for the city to improve life for Black men and boys. 

“As a life-long resident of Roxbury, ensuring that Black men and youth have access to equitable opportunities is of the utmost importance to me,” Maddrey Goode, a commission member, said in a statement. “My focus is to help build a better Boston that focuses not just on diversity and inclusion, but most importantly equity for our present and future Black citizens, leaders, and generations.” 

Here are the members of the commission:

  • Tito Jackson* – Former district 7 city councilor & original sponsor of the ordinance
  • Louis Elisa* – Chair of Garrison-Trotter Neighborhood Association
  • Jeff Similien* – Founder of Kings Amongst Kings 
  • Devin Morris* – Founder of the Teacher’s Lounge
  • James Mackey* – Founder of Brother’s Building
  • James Hills* – Host of JavawithJimmy 
  • Kurt Faustin* – Founder of Drop Out Academy
  • James Morton – CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston
  • Joseph Feaster Jr – Of Counsel at McKenzie & Associates, former president of the Boston branch of the NAACP
  • Sean Perryman-Futrell – Tech Boston Student
  • Abdullah Beckett – UMass Boston Student, chair of MBK-Umass Boston 
  • Tony Brewer – Community advocate, Black Men’s Committee member
  • Piter Brandao – Co-founder of MBK617
  • Matt Parker- Executive director, Union of Minority Neighborhoods
  • Maddrey Goode – Director, MassHire Boston
  • Tony Richards – Vice president of Equitable Business Development, MassHousing
  • Andre Barbour – Director of diversity, equity & inclusion, NEI and WORC2
  • Richard Harris- Associate dean of diversity programs and director of multicultural engineering at Northeastern, chair of Concerned Black Men 
  • Darien Johnson – Policy lead, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts
  • Imari Jeffries – Executive director, King Boston
  • Charlie Titus – Former vice chancellor, UMass Boston

* Selected from the Boston City Council recommendations

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