A Roxbury Enclave To Be Named For Menino?!? NO WAY
By: Jamarhl Crawford
My relationship with former Mayor Menino was complicated to say the least. Now at 44, looking back on his 20 yr. reign, almost all of my adult organizing life happened under one man, Thomas Menino.
Currently, there are talks about renaming the area in Roxbury surrounding the intersection of Dudley St. and Blue Hill Ave.
This idea is being promoted by La Nuestra Communidad as reported in the Boston Globe, “Some want to rename Roxbury enclave after Menino.”
La Nuestra’s Executive Dir. David Price had this to say:
“Mayor Menino made a lot of investments in Roxbury, including this stretch,’’ said David Price, executive director of Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp., a community organization helping to spearhead the naming effort.
“People who live in this community can see gentrification coming block by block from Fort Hill across Warren Street to the Moreland Street Historic District heading straight to this part of Blue Hill Avenue,’’ said Price, whose agency’s mission includes community organizing and revitalization. “They realize this is an opportunity for them to take a name that is a homegrown name.”
I remember during Menino’s last campaign when I was being very critical and engaged in a debate with an ardent supporter of Menino, who happened to be white. After multiple attempts at swaying me with brochure bullet points from Menino’s “Legacy” and being rebuffed each time with facts, the person finally shook their head, looked at ME with pity and said “After all that man has done for you people” and then walked away. I’m not making this up to illustrate a point. People really feel that way, as if Menino was a true friend and champion and many may even suggest a savior for Black & Latino people in Boston. So here’s the problem. It just ain’t true.
I am not going to go too deep here because I am planning a complete retrospective on Menino to be released in due time titled “The End of an Error,” but let’s just take a few points.
As I said, almost all of my adult organizing life was under the tenure of Menino. How is it that for the past several decades we have fought violence with failing strategies since the so-called “Boston Miracle” and the people who were trying to make change were always in a fight with, you guessed it, Menino. At every turn of self-determination efforts by the community in education, employment, housing, policing, violence, etc. there was always one looming obstacle, Mt. Menino. Menino was not a champion for communities of color, he was a blockage and a narrow-minded, vicious, petty, vengeful, vindictive one at that.
– We can’t have violence in this city with failed partners and strategies for the past 20 yrs. and at the same time say Menino was a great Mayor.
– We can’t have watched the decline of the Boston Public School System over the past 20 yrs. and say at the same time say Menino was a great Mayor. He himself said “Judge me on education.” How’d that work out for you?
– We can’t have watched several white business owners/developers get filthy rich in this city and can’t name one Black millionaire and say at the same time say Menino was a great Mayor.
– We can’t be consistently named as one of the Most Racist Cities in America and give no responsibility to the man in charge for 20 yrs and say at the same time say Menino was a great Mayor.
– We can’t have a new Mayor, who in the first 9 months of his office appointed 9 Black men to head major departments (more since then) and just by doing that in the first 9 months beat the previous Mayor of 20 yrs with a score of 9-0 and say at the same time say Menino was a great Mayor.
– You know that Police Chief from NY who keeps making these bone headed statements regarding race?? NYPD Chief William Bratton is former Boston Police Commissioner and so Boston, New York and the world can thank Menino for that as well.
– La Nuestra’s David Price brings up… “People who live in this community can see gentrification coming block by block from Fort Hill across Warren Street to the Moreland Street Historic District heading straight to this part of Blue Hill Avenue,’’ said Price. Indubitably Mr. Price, gentrification is taking over Roxbury and who could be to blame for assisting and quickening that process?? If Dana Carvey was here he might say in his church lady voice “Satan,” and I would say Menino, and we would both be right. We can’t be listed as the Most Gentrified City in America and give no responsibility to the man in charge for 20 yrs and say at the same time say Menino was a great Mayor. I mean who is responsible for decades of gentrification, Mayor Walsh who is just past year 1?!?
– The very area they are proposing to name after Menino was severely neglected by the Menino administration during his reign. Don’t believe me let’s just remember. Where is the main prostitution strip in Roxbury for the past several decades that so little has been done to address? Blue Hill Ave. How many empty lots are all along Blue Hill and Dudley St. in this same area? How are the businesses doing along this corridor? What is being done for all the vacant businesses along this strip? Are the needles, condoms, and broken bottles still littering the streets? This area has long been neglected and once again it falls primarily at the feet of the man who some wish to immortalize.
OK I’m going to stop there, trust me I could go on in more depth but consider this a preview of the forthcoming “End of an Error” which will provide a detailed account of what Menino’s legacy means for communities of color.
In the meantime, this renaming is not only a bad idea but also a slap in the face of the good people who worked tirelessly and sometime under threat of physical harm to control their own destiny exercise self-determination and improve their neighborhood despite all odds. Often times those odds were stacked against them by either sabotage or avoidance of critical issues by none other than hizzoner Mayor Menino and his administration.
Here is the proposed affected area: