On November 3rd, 2021, Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, became the first woman and person of color to be elected mayor of Boston. A Democratic political strategist proclaimed that “the old Boston is gone, there’s a new Boston in terms of political power.” Her campaign promises were wide and ambitious, including pledges to “reapportion city contracts to firms owned by Black Bostonians; to pare away at the power of the police union; to waive fees for some public transportation; and to restore a form of rent control.” Her election saw the formation a new coalition of Black, Asian, and Latinx voters in an increasingly diverse Boston.
Most notably, Wu called for the abolition of the Boston Development Planning Agency (BPDA), an agency accused of displacing poor and low-income residents through its “urban renewal projects,” mainly by encouraging a luxury housing boom. Urban renewal refers to a program of land redevelopment in which marginalized and blighted areas are cleared out to make space for higher class development. In a report published by her campaign admonishing the BPDA, Wu quotes a 1965 ruling in which the judge warned: “economically powerful private interests, shielded by [the court’s decision] and working behind the facade of a public authority which has the power of eminent domain, will be enabled to become the real beneficiaries of the exercise of [the government’s urban renewal] power.” The residents of Roxbury, however, were determined to prevent the realization of the judge’s prediction.