When Linda Dorcena Forry won her bid for state senator of the First Suffolk District in Boston in May, her victory signified change to come. Not only is she black, but she is the first woman to hold the seat. Those two factors alone showed outsiders that Boston, long associated with racism toward blacks and any other nonwhite outsiders, was changing.
But some traditions are harder to break than others, as is the case with Forry’s attempt to host next year’s South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, reports the New York Times. The event has always been hosted by men who are Irish-American and from South Boston.
She is not from Southie, as the historically Irish-American area is known, but from Dorchester, which is more ethnically diverse. And she has declared her intentions to take over the coveted role of M.C. next year.
This last fact stirred indignation in at least two Southie politicians, prompting a brief but heated controversy that threw into stark relief the divide between the old Boston of racially tinged turf battles and the new Boston, a minority-majority metropolis.
Boston City Councilman Bill Linehan stepped in to host this year, since the incumbent had resigned, and he would like to see the tradition stay the way it has been. To Linehan it isn’t about Forry being black or a woman; the issue is where she’s from.
“It’s a cultural thing,” Mr. Linehan told The Boston Globe in an article published Friday that exposed a controversy that had been quietly brewing. “There has never been anyone who hosted it who does not live in South Boston, but there have been people who have hosted it who were not the state senator.”
Forry begged to differ, saying the sitting senator always MCs the event, and it’s less important that she’s not Irish.
As it happens, she does have Irish ties. Her husband, Bill Forry, the editor of The Dorchester Reporter, is Irish-American. “I have four biracial children — Irish-American and black,“ she said, noting that her family celebrates Irish culture.
Read more at the New York Times.