The City of Boston is pledging $1.8 Million to ‘The Office of Black Male Advancement’

The City of Boston is pledging $1.8 Million to ‘The Office of Black Male Advancement’

July 16, 2022 0

A few dozen gathered at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building conference room for a historic meeting as the city’s Black Men and Boys Commission held its first public listening session and first formal appearance in the organization’s history.

Different from other government meetings, where officials would do majority of the speaking, Wednesday’s meeting was focused on the residents and their vision for progression.

“We structured this for the community to have the first voice, the most important voice and in the beginning, there was some uncomfortability with that. But when it comes down to it, we realize the 21 individuals… we realize that we’re nothing without our community.”

Tito Jackson, Commission chairman

At $1.8 million, the Office of Black Male Advancement has one of the largest new line items within the city’s operating budget.

Utilizing these funds will be crucial as community members are determined to create positive change. Items brought to this discussion included: Programs and initiatives to prevent violence, preparation for climate change, education and housing as well as the immense support for improving mental health and wellness.

Members of Boston’s Black Men and Boys Commission listen to a speaker during the group’s first community listening session
Esteban Bustillos / GBH News

“The basis of much of that was hit on when people spoke about the economic wealth gap and the real need for people to be elevated, not only with jobs but through entrepreneurship,” Jackson said. “And when we look at the massive city budget, the manner in which those contracts are partitioned and whether or not people of color, and in particular Black men, have an opportunity to be at the table for those contracts. Which then means they’re going to hire folks from these communities, right?”

Tito Jackson, Commission chairman

Frank Farrow, executive director of the Office of Black Male Advancement echoed Jackson in saying the he understands the obstacles the community faces and knows the solutions.

“And it just reaffirms the need to listen to community first and bring them along the process, that they’re driving what the work is going to look like,” he said. “Because it’s a heavy load and we’re going to need everybody at the table.”

Frank Farrow, Executive Director of The Office of Black Male Advancement

The Office of Black Male Advancement is directly tied to the Black Men and Boys commission, representing a nearly ten-year, multi-administration effort to train a municipal lens on Black men and boys in the City of Boston.

The panel was proposed and unanimously passed by the City Council, but was vetoed in 2014 by then-Mayor Marty Walsh. It was ultimately authorized last September by acting Mayor Kim Janey.

Then in February, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the commission’s open application period along with the formation of the new Office of Black Male Advancement.

Wu administration officials familiar with the panel’s work said at least one prior meeting last month was intended as an introductory conversation to help members become familiar with one another. Jackson pointed out that the budget cycle for the Office of Black Male Advancement, which directs and supports the commission, started on July 1.

Another community listening session is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 3. For Jackson, the work is as important now as it was when he started to push for such a commission years ago.

“And as Governor [Deval] Patrick used to say, this is about turning to each other and not on each other in difficult times,” he said. “And this warms my heart ’cause this has been a passion of mine.”

We will keep you updated for more information on this story.

You can learn more about The Office of Black Male Advancement / Black Men and Black Boys Commission and apply here

BMI Staff
BMI Staff