BOSTON — An emotional Boston Mayor Marty Walsh delivered what is likely his final State of the City Address on Tuesday night.
Walsh also used it as an opportunity to say farewell to the city he credits for shaping him into who he is at the core.
The Dorchester native spoke to a virtual audience from the rebuilt Roxbury branch of the Boston Public Library in Nubian Square.
He described the long list of hardships as well as the achievements of Boston during what he called “a year of struggle.”
Walsh acknowledged the 1,060 Boston residents killed by coronavirus and said the city must remain focused on keeping people safe during the pandemic.
“COVID has affected all of us, but there’s no doubt it hit some harder than others. In Black, Latino, and immigrant communities, inequities in health, housing, and work opportunities caused more illness and job loss,” Walsh said. “Older Bostonians and those with disabilities face the highest risk, and the most isolation.”
Walsh laid out a list of priorities for a city preparing to move on without him. That included continuing to build on racial equity, substance-abuse initiatives and beginning the economic recovery.
“I want to say a word to small business owners. You are the soul of our economy and you sacrificed so much for the safety of our city. I will never forget it. So far, we provided $26 million in resources to nearly 4,000 small businesses. These new opportunities, from outdoor dining to reopening grants, are just the beginning,” he said. “We must build back the restaurants and bars, stores and salons, gyms and art studios that make our neighborhoods so special.”
Walsh got choked up as he reflected on what the city of Boston means to him and his family.
“This is the city that welcomed my immigrant parents. This is the city that picked me up when I needed a second chance. This is the city where I fought side by side with you for marriage equality, immigrant rights, addiction treatment, criminal justice reform, education funding, and good middle-class jobs,” Walsh said.
The 53-year-old addressed his next chapter as he plans to head to D.C. to serve as labor secretary as long as he’s confirmed by the Senate.
“The truth is, I’m not going to Washington alone. I’m bringing Boston with me. This city is not just my hometown, it’s my heart,” added Walsh. “We have tough days ahead of us. But we’ve been knocked down before, and we always get back up. In 2021, Boston will rise up again. We will leave no one behind. And our city will be stronger than ever.”