Lupo captured the voices of Boston's neighborhoods over five decades
Oct. 1, 2008
There's too many injustices in our world. So, I believe a journalist should write by the standard of "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." Alan Lupo did this for many decades and Boston and Massachusetts are really a better place because he practiced this.
From the fight to save neighborhoods from the 10-lane Inner Belt Highway in the 1960s, to the busing/desegregation years of strife in the 1970s, to so many stories that mattered year-in and year-out into this year, he was there to record, empathize, and tell what wouldn't otherwise be told. He shined a light on injustices and brought to life the characters in our midst with humor and honesty.
I first met Alan in the early 1970s when he came to our community group's Dorchester office to listen and write stories about city issues when he was a member of the Boston Globe's hard working Urban Team. He had a big life as a journalist with the Globe, Herald, Phoenix, and Channel 2.
He wrote numerous stories about and a book called Rites of Way about the fight of Boston neighborhood leaders against the Inner Belt Highway that was to be built from Route 128 in Dedham through Boston's neighborhoods, across the Charles River, and then through Cambridge to connect to I-93 in Somerville. He is recognized in a memorial history of this campaign that stands outside of the Roxbury Crossing Station on the Orange Line where this 10 lane highway would have run.
Alan Lupo wrote many news stories and a thoughtful book about the years of busing and desegregation that pulled apart our neighborhoods during the 1970's. It's called Liberty's Chosen Home.
He was always someone that a community leader, community organizer, or just an average Joe or Mary could call and get his ear to talk about the grievance that you had that you thought should be covered by a newspaper.
I remember he was doing an article about the organization I worked for in the 1980s called Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance and some campaign we were doing about mortgage redlining by banks. But always the observant and humorous guy, he happened to spot a hand written sign posted on the door to the down stairs from our office that warned people of rats on the stairwell. Lupo then remarked in the story how the big bankers in their big office buildings that we were taking on did not have to venture through such hazards. It was very funny, though our landlord gave us hell about it.
Alan's message machine when he was a Globe reporter used to say something like, "He was sorry he was not there but he was out avoiding editors and hoped he wouldn't slip out of his mortal coil."
In his columns in recent years, he continued to bring up what Congressman Barney Frank called the "no say'ims" about what was true but often avoided. Lupo said if we wanted good city and state services, we needed to pay taxes to support them and sometimes even a little higher taxes.
He was a what we call a real Boston original. He will be much missed.
Lew Finfer of Dorchester is the director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network.