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Many Bostonians deny that their city is racist. When asked in a recent poll, city residents were split on that question, with slightly more of them saying the city was welcoming of all races.

But the city’s history of racism may haunt its future, leaving doubt that one of the most liberal cities in America will elect its first Black mayor next month.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson debated Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Tuesday night in their final face-to-face public meeting before the Nov. 7 election, the Boston Globe reported. Jackson criticized the incumbent for largely ignoring a recent NAACP report card that gave the mayor low grades for not keeping promises to communities of color.

The Boston branch of the NAACP released a scathing 175-page report on Sunday that many community leaders say confirms their experiences dealing with Walsh’s administration, according to WBUR. The list of issues included a lack of diversity in the fire department, failure to support minority-owned businesses and not implementing a police body camera program.

“I won’t deny there are definitely issues we have to deal with, and we deal with them every single day,” Walsh said in defense of his record. “We’ve talked about generational issues that nobody has ever tackled.”

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Politics aside, Boston has also shown its racist side against its own athletes. NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who won numerous championships with the Boston Celtics, called the city a “flea market of racism” in response to fans at Boston’s Fenway Park calling an opposing player the N-word.

Based on a recent poll, Jackson was facing an uphill battle. The mayor was holding a 35-percent lead over his rival. How much of that lead comes from people who don’t want a Black mayor?


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Will Closet Racism Prevent Boston From Electing First Black Mayor?  was originally published on