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Mayor Walsh will lead public discussion on racism in Boston

The event begins a year-long effort to help bridge deep divides.

A woman reacts agnrily to a busload of students during the school desegregation prBoston Globe

Race relations in Boston have been tumultuous and at times violent.

On Saturday, Mayor Marty Walsh will open a year-long series intended to bridge some of those deep divides with a public discussion on racism in the city.

One of the most painful periods in recent memory came in the 1970s, with the court-ordered desegregation of Boston's public schools. The protests and riots that followed over the busing of black students into whiteneighborhoods cast a long shadow over the city.

Boston officials said Saturday's broad conversation topic is a first step in the city's acknowledgement of its past and desire to look to its future to become "more socially cohesive and resilient."


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The heated presidential campaign and protests that have followed the election of Donald Trump have made the race topic a timely one, Walsh acknowledged during an interview on WBUR Friday morning.

But he said the series had been in the works since he ran for mayor three years ago.

"However,with the presidentialelection, there's a lot of undertone of race and racism that was discussed," Walsh told WBUR's Bob Oakes. "It's the right time to have this conversation."

Walsh said he was making good on a campaign promise that, if he won, he would have a citywide discussion about race. He has spent the last few years preparing and wants to encourage as many Boston residents to participate as possible.

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"I don't think thatpeoplefully understand a lot of thestruggles people of color have gone through over generations," Walsh told WBUR. "There's a lot of learning that has tohappen, a lot of education. I think we certainly have a lot of room for improvement and growth in our city."

Doors open for the discussion at 9:15 a.m at Culter Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St.

The event starts at 10 a.m. and the conversation will be led by Dr. Atyia Martin, chief resilience officer for Boston. It is supported by partners that include 100 Resilient Cities, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Emerson College.

The conversation will be live streamed here.

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