By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – An open discussion on race relations in the city of Boston drew hundreds of students and residents for the second annual Boston Talks About Racism open forum with Mayor Marty Walsh.

“I think we can’t be afraid to have the conversation about race and racism,” Walsh told the audience.

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The 2nd annual ‘Boston Talks About Racism’ forum at Northeastern University drew hundreds of students and residents. (WBZ-TV)

The event held at Northeastern University had performances and a question-and-answer period.

Walsh fielded questions from the audience, including what steps he’ll take to involve teenagers in discussing the issue of race.

A local youth asks a question during the 2nd annual ‘Boston Talks About Racism’ forum. (WBZ-TV)

After the forum, participants took part in break-out sessions to discuss race, equality and opportunity on a much deeper level.

“We have to provide opportunities because that’s the only way the city can move forward,” said Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun.

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“My goal is to have a better understanding in dealing with the issues around race and racism in Boston and at least acknowledging the fact that we’re working on the issues,” Walsh said.

Residents said more needs to be done to address the issue.

“I think people need to understand the sense of urgency. A conversation is great. A dialogue is great. But there’s a sense of urgency,” said Wendell Joseph of Roxbury.

Maria Lora says higher rent is driving her out of her Roslindale neighborhood. (WBZ-TV)

Maria Lora of Roslindale said her rent has gone up and she may have to move.

“It’s a neighborhood where there’s a lot of gentrification going on right now and that is really concerning… I can’t afford to live there and I am probably one of the few people of color on my street.”

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Mayor Walsh says the next step is to have racial dialogues around the city of Boston working with facilitators, teenagers and community leaders.

Paul Burton