In 2009 as we were negotiating our move from Cambridge to Boston, we connected with a little-known State Representative named Marty Walsh. Some in Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood – Representative Walsh’s political base – were opposed to our move because Cristo Rey only serves low-income students and intentionally excludes families of higher economic means, including many who lived close to the building we wanted to occupy.
Marty came to our school in Cambridge, met with Fr. Jose Medina, our Principal, and me, and spoke with our students. At the end of the visit, we talked about the challenges of moving to Savin Hill. Marty told us not to worry. There would be other opportunities for his neighbors; what Cristo Rey could bring to his community and to all of Boston would help young people.
Marty’s support of our school was critical to our move. He was willing to stand up, gently and respectfully, to his neighbors and friends. He convinced the neighborhood that Cristo Rey Boston would be good for the community, and today those very people who spoke against our move to Dorchester are our biggest supporters.
Since our move, Marty, who lives right across the street from my office, has become a close friend of Cristo Rey Boston. He roots for our students, he’s spoken here many times, and when he talked with a class of juniors on the morning of his election as the 54th Mayor of our city, he told them never to let their dreams die. He also said: “I love this school.” And, he meant it.
Marty is now the Mayor of all of Boston and no longer just an advocate for those of us fortunate to work or live in Savin Hill. I can assure you, though, that Mayor Walsh will continue to stand up for young people, urge them to follow their dreams just as he did, and put the interest of kids first every time he has to make a difficult decision.