BOSTON (CBS) — 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of WBZ-TV’s on-air news coverage in Boston.
Former House Speaker Tom Finneran and President of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts Darnell Williams joined Jon Keller to continue his exploration of Boston politics in the past and in the future, as part of WBZ’s Boston Next series.
The three can agree that while we have come a long way, there is still a long way to go.
“The biggest issue that we need to deal with, wrestle with, and come to terms with is the level of racism that still exists today within our city, within our state, and our nation,” said Williams. “We are at the table talking past one another, we provide judgment versus opportunities where we’re really not getting to know the person or what they can add value to or end product — so if we can fix that in our lifetime, that would be a real significant accomplishment.”
Finneran doesn’t believe racism is at the top of the list for unaccomplished public policy missions in Boston. “Let’s look back three generations to 1948. Terribly racist city at the time. Very segregated. Segregated: not just black, white. Segregated: the Irish were here, the Italians were here, here was a Polish section, here was another Greek section over here. Much much more integration racially and by ethnic, cultural differences. All of that I think is remarkable what has happened. Yet, Darnell makes a very good point. You have incoming inequality, you have educational disparities that are still very very troubling. I think the challenge will be in each of those areas: economic opportunity…trying to find a way to close and effectively erase that educational outcome disparity.”
Williams responded, “We live in these pockets: so I have poverty over here and I have abject wealth over here. So when I say that racism and how that plays itself out in our everyday life, we have that enormous challenge that should not be negated because of the progress that we’ve made.”
What does Boston politics need more of in the future?
“What people are looking for is somebody who is going to unify us. That when we have a national tragedy, that rather than to divide us around this tragedy, you use your position in order to heal the land. Bringing people together across racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation lines and say ‘I’m concerned about each and everyone on you as Americans and even if you are a visitor on our soil, I want to make sure that you feel safe and you feel welcome here.’ That’s what this nation was built upon,” said Williams.
Finneran joined in, “I’d call it civic and social cohesion. That’s exactly what I’d call it. The ability to bring people together and see the commonality among and between all of us, whatever our faith, whatever our race, whatever our gender, whatever our sexual orientation, there should be a civic and social cohesion where we are all still Americans.”
Looking down the road 70 years and using the last 70 years as reference, Finneran is hopeful great strides will be made.