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In Roxbury, new Jacksonian era

In Roxbury, new Jacksonian era
By Peter Gelzinis  |   Sunday, March 27, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Columnists

Photo by Ted Fitzgerald

For the past couple of years, Roxbury’s political landscape has been dominated by Dianne Wilkerson’s sullen sphinx on one side and Chuck Turner’s snarling goatee on the other.

Yesterday, it basked in the warmth of Tito Jackson’s smile.

Exactly 24 hours after Chuck Turner began his three-year federal prison sentence in West Virginia, his exuberant 35-year-old successor to the District 7 seat was sworn in.

“I want to tear down walls and build bridges,” Jackson told me, a half-hour before Mayor Tom Menino and 11 city councilors came to Dudley Square to administer the oath of office to their new colleague.

“I want people to know that Roxbury is the center of Boston,” Jackson said. “As goes Roxbury, so goes the city of Boston. I want them to know that economic development and jobs need to — and will be — flowing into this community.

“This is a community that has gone through so much politically, has gone through so much economically, but it is indeed still standing,” he said. “It’s a community of survivors.”

Yesterday, that community of survivors ecstatically embraced the adopted son of the late community activist Herb Jackson and his wife, Rosa, as its newest, and perhaps its brightest hope.

Indeed, the atmosphere inside Roxbury’s refurbished Hibernian Hall felt more like a huge family reunion or a wedding, rather than the christening of a new political voice.

But the significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Mayor Menino or the City Council.

Given the political tsunami that has washed over District 7, Steve Murphy, the council president, felt it was important to convene a special council meeting in Dudley Square “for the express purpose of swearing in Tito.”

“He’s got so much energy and optimism,” Murphy said, “I think we’re all looking forward to working with him.”

East Boston’s Sal LaMattina agreed: “This is a very good day for the city. Tito’s got so much energy and optimism. He’s someone who adds a lot to the public discussion.”

So what happened in Dudley Square yesterday was a kind of mini state-of-the-city moment, complete with the mayor and the councilors filing down the middle of this famous banquet hall with all the necessary downtown pomp and circumstance.

“What we’re doing today,” Tito Jackson said, “ is rebuilding, we’re connecting, we’re collaborating, we’re partnering for that new Roxbury, that new District 7, which I think will impact a new city of Boston. I want to make sure that this community and the whole city of Boston is connected.

“A kid from Roxbury should be able to go to any other part of the city,” Jackson said, “and a kid from any other part of the city should be able to come to Roxbury.”

Amen.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1326362

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