Thank You, Boston

Mayor Walsh giving his State of the City address last Tuesday.

On Jan. 12, I held my final State of the City, which was broadcast live from Boston’s newest civic treasure, the  completely rebuilt Roxbury branch of the Boston Public Library  in Nubian Square. 

The year 2020 was a tough one, and 2021 is a year for healing as we keep each other safe; get through this final stretch of the pandemic; and build a recovery that moves all our neighborhoods forward. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, we have lost 1,077 Bostonians to the virus. They are loved and missed and their families are in my heart. Covid has affected all of us and it has hit some harder than others. Black, Latino, and immigrant communities faced the biggest impacts. Inequities in health, housing, and work opportunities caused more illness and job loss in these communities. Older Bostonians and those with disabilities face the highest risk and the most isolation. Most students have been out of classrooms since March, and families have struggled with childcare. 

While 2020 was a year of struggle, it was also a year that  brought out the best in our city . We saw nurses, doctors, and medical staff gearing up and going into battle to save lives and provide comfort. We saw EMTs on the frontlines of a pandemic, helping over 4,000 Covid patients.

Firefighters brought recovery coaches to calls, to help those struggling with addiction. Police officers took 800 guns off the street, keeping us safe no matter the risk. Essential workers and city employees answered the call, day after day. Residents stepped up to help each other in a thousand different ways. The heroes are all around us.

As a city, we came together. We built a  field hospital  in five days. We created a  Health Inequities Task Force  to address health disparities across race and ethnicity. We’ve provided over six million  meals  to children, families, veterans, and seniors. We got 40,000  laptops  to students. We got permanent rental vouchers to  over 1,000 families  with children at risk of homelessness. And we created the  Boston Resiliency Fund , providing over $30 million to help 250,000 households in need. And last year, despite the pandemic, we approved  $8.5 billion of new investment  in our city, creating a potential 35,000 new jobs. 

In 2021, we will continue that work. One of our next priorities is getting students safely  back into Boston Public Schools . We will also continue to support small businesses, renters and homeowners, and those in recovery; push even further toward meeting our climate goals; and invest in Boston’s parks and civic spaces that give our residents more opportunities to come together, safely. 

We also need to address all the ways systemic racism hurts people in our city. The urgency of this work has never been clearer. Last summer, George Floyd’s murder sparked a long-overdue reckoning with racism. I thank Black Bostonians for the way you made your voices heard. And I thank everyone who joined the movement — Black, white, Latino, Asian, and indigenous peoples standing together. I’m asking all of us to accept this responsibility as our own and commit to fighting racism. It’s our deepest moral obligation – and it’s our greatest opportunity for growth.

We have tough days ahead of us. But we’ve been knocked down before, and we always get back up. In 2021, Boston will rise up again. We will leave no one behind, and our city will be stronger than ever.

As you might know, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have  nominated me to be Labor Secretary  in their administration. I have accepted this honor. If confirmed by the US Senate, I’m not going to Washington alone. I’m bringing Boston with me. This city is not just my hometown, it’s my heart. I believe in Boston. This is the city that welcomed my immigrant parents. This is the city that picked me up when I needed a second chance. This is the city where I fought side by side with you for marriage equality, immigrant rights, addiction treatment, criminal justice reform, education funding, and good middle-class jobs. 

Every minute of every day in this job, I spent listening to you, learning from you, working with you and working for you. I will never forget it, and I will forever be grateful.  We may be hurting now, but the state of our city is resilient; the state of our city is united; the state of our city is  hopeful; and the state of our city is deep-down Boston strong. 

Boston, thank you.