Janey was named mayor on Monday, following the resignation of Marty Walsh who was recently confirmed as the next U.S. Labor Secretary.
“History will be made tonight,” Walsh told CBS Boston. “We’re an extremely diverse city from different backgrounds and different nationalities and different skin colors. I think it’s a good thing for our city. I think it’s a great thing for our city.”
The 55-year-old Roxbury native rose through the ranks after serving as City Council president for the last four years. She is best known for her advocacy around education, due to her family’s history in the arts, education, and entrepreneurship.
Janey’s activism and passion for systemic change have led her to work with notable organizations, such as the Boston NAACP, MassVOTE and Massachusetts Advocate for Children.
Amanda Hunter, executive director of the women’s advocacy group the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, expressed her enthusiasm for the historic move.
“It’s hard to overstate the significance of inaugurating a woman of color as acting mayor of Boston,” Hunter shared with WBUR News. “We have exclusively had white, male mayors leading this city for nearly 200 years.”
While Janey’s matriculation is groundbreaking, she technically is not the official mayor. Since former Mayor Walsh resigned mid-term, she is considered acting mayor until the November election, a position with limited capabilities.
Boston’s city charter outlines that those serving as acting mayor cannot make permanent appointments and can only perform tasks that are urgent — or “not admitting of delay,” Boston.com reported.
Although Janey’s position is ex officio, local Boston residents were elated by the news, including Deanna Cook, who made headlines with her twin sister in 2017 for discriminatory mistreatment regarding their hair, as Blavity previously reported.
“We had basically no representation,” Cook said, according to WBUR. “She knows how it is to be that little Black girl in the classroom and now is in charge and can, from experience, make policies that she knows exactly how and whom they will affect.”
Following Janey’s mayoral appointment, both she and Walsh reflected on the revolutionary progress.
“I was texting with Council President Janey last night. I texted, ‘think about this for a minute, a little girl from Roxbury is about to be mayor of Boston.’ And her response was, ‘think about this for a minute, a little boy from Dorchester is about to be United States Labor Secretary,’” Walsh told CBS Boston. “What an amazing city that we live in and what an amazing time that we’re experiencing right now.”
Janey took to Twitter to share her well wishes to Walsh in his new role.
“Congratulations on your confirmation, Secretary Walsh,” she tweeted. “You are a proud son of Dorchester who will bring our city with you [to the United States Department of Labor]. The working people of America will benefit greatly from your passion.”
Congratulations on your confirmation, Secretary Walsh. You are a proud son of Dorchester who will bring our city with you to the @USDOL. The working people of America will benefit greatly from your passion.
Now, we look ahead to a new day — a new chapter — in Boston’s history. https://t.co/Tp2802GKd4
— Kim Janey (@Kim_Janey) March 22, 2021
A swearing-in ceremony for Janey is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.