Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and his one-time rival, Mel King, launched a new youth initiative—Boston Peace and Democracy Discussions— on Tuesday. Mayor Martin Walsh was on hand as a crowd of roughly 60 people gathered at the Julia Butler Family and Community Center at the Lenox/Camden housing development in Boston’s South End.
The discussions will begin at 36 pilot sites in June and go citywide with Pre-K and Elementary students in September, and with high school students next January. The program will use e-books and digital games to engage children on social issues and to encourage them to become advocates for peace.
Groups of students presented their own proposals to keep schools safe from bullying at the event. “Stand up for yourself” … “be a buddy not a bully” … “create a bully-free zone” were some of the slogans the children promoted.
Walsh emphasized the significance of the friendship between Flynn and King, who vied for the mayoralty in1983, are working together to help their city. “They were opponents, but they were fighting for the same thing — to make sure that Boston was an inclusive city,” said the mayor.
Walsh himself referenced Councillor Tito Jackson, who was present at the event, and is challenging him in this year’s mayoral election. The rivals presented themselves as role models for the students. “We’re not going to let that Washington rhetoric tear our city apart,” said Walsh.
King, an author and activist, saw “the power of love” in the students that battle bullying with the program.
Sharing a microphone with his former rival, King said, “The power of love opens doors, but it’s the love of power that builds fences.”