Karilyn Crockett municipal studies professor at MIT was elected by Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
Karilyn Crockett, an urban studies professor at MIT, was appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Monday to head the newly created Office of Equity, a Cabinet-level post that brings together five departments devoted in various ways to the advancement of women and people of color.
Crockett was a natural choice for the job, a Dorchester native, and a big thinker. She has already spent time in the trenches in City Hall, where she served as director of economic policy and research and director of small business development before leaving in 2018 for academia.
“Those people were aligned the other way. So how did the people on the street turn that tide? They turned that tide by pressuring the instruments of power, articulating a new direction, forcing a change.”
Her journey to the halls of power was unlikely. Though she was identified as a promising student early on and funneled into Advanced Work classes, she barely knew what she was getting into when she successfully tested into both Boston Latin School and Bos- ton Latin Academy before seventh grade and had to decide which one to enter.
Knowing nothing about either school, Crockett and her grandmother, who raised her, decided “Latin Academy” sounded fancier than “Latin School” so she entered the exam school in seventh grade. But she didn’t stay there. A teacher from sixth grade recommended her to the Winsor School, the all-girls prep school in the Longwood Medical Area. So foreign was the whole notion of prep school that it took her a while to realize she was being recruited. But her experience there was life-changing.
She became class president. “I was able to really flourish there,” Crockett said. “It was government will serve her well. Whether she’s right about that will be pivotal, because such a position can only succeed with strong internal support. Administration of Mayor Martin J. “There are new people there but I begin with a sense of how to get things done,” she said. Walsh “My job is to figure out how we can get out of our own way sometimes, and how we can do a better job of listening.” But the public is demanding tangible progress on equity and demanding it now.
Crockett insists that’s a good thing.“The external pressure that gets exerted on the building is essential,” she said. “It’s essential for good governance, Crockett will have her hands by her ability to deliver. She for young women. You learned full creating change in the says she wouldn’t want it any to take your questions and your Walsh administration. Just another way.
Seeking seriously. It just sets week ago, tolerant activists “This is not just about have you up for college, for leader- demanded the defeat of a city in a smiley Black woman at the ship, for life.” budget that, in their view, did the front of something,” she That led to a string of denot do enough to address sys- said.
This is about under- grees from Yale and the Lontemic racial inequities. Though standing in a comprehensive don School of Economics. And the budget passed, it’s the clear way all the things we should be a career as an activist she that equity and Walsh’s com-doing.” once ran a Roxbury nonprofit mitment to it is officially the “Time is of the essence here.
a city official and a teaching central issue of the 2021 May- This is not a five-year plan. This career, where, incidentally, she or’s race.is not a three-year plan. This is was teaching MIT students His previous efforts on this a right-now thing.” about equity and how to front have been how can I put achieve it in city government. this? halting. The city’s record Adrian Walker is a Globe Their work included a con of doing more business with columnists.
He can be reached at setting the staff of progressive minority-owned businesses is an Adrian. firstname.lastname@example.org. mayors seeking to institute well-documented failure a few years ago met a quick, quiet demise. The city’s schools, where a majority of the students are of color, are uneven at best. There has been a lot of talk about “resiliency” but not much progress at addressing wide and
growing inequality. The work has been well-intentioned but not continued or systemic. I believe Walsh’s heart is in the right place. But addressing inequality takes more than the absence of an ill will or the presence of a tender heart.