Outspoken, passionate and driven

BOSTON — Khymani James’ resignation from the Boston Public School Committee not only sparked debate over the treatment of student members, but it also launched an investigation into the district’s use of unlicensed and unorthodox student counseling practices.

“When you see something that’s wrong, you speak up. You speak up.,” says James. “Regardless of whether it’s happening to you, or to another person or to other people.””

It’s a lesson Khymani tells me he learned from his mother, who died tragically when he was just 12.

“The passing of my mother; it was the first formative experience of my life that triggered other formative experiences as well. I’d say that another really pivotal one was me being accepted into Boston Latin Academy.“

The then 17-year-old high school senior was sworn in as the student representative on Boston’s School Committee in the fall of 2020 and immediately knew things had to change.

“It was really from my first school committee meeting. My first school committee meeting. From behind the scenes phone calls to the actual committee meeting itself that is posted on Youtube,” says James.

It’s was a year where School buildings remained shut down by the pandemic. The board chairman Michael Loconto resigned after he was caught mocking Asian speakers’ names at a public hearing on exam school admissions. That is a topic near and dear to Khymani.

“Be bold so that your policy can be bold. Be bold so that your actions can be bold.“

Khymani is putting that mantra to work at Columbia University. The now 18-year-old has his eye on Congress.

“The ultimate destination is Congress. I find legislating to be absolutely amazing if done correctly, says James. ”I don’t know what will happen in between graduation and Congress but I assume it will be a lot of organizing and just a lot of changing the way people think and getting us to dismantle a lot of the systems of oppression. Cause I believe that’s what I was put on this earth to do”

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