Boston City Council remembers Bruce Bolling at weekly meeting

After signing off on a bill involving paid leave for new parents, Boston city councilors took time to remember the late Bruce Bolling, former Boston City Council president, as a man who always served the public.

Councilor President Steve Murphy and Councilor Charles Yancey spoke on behalf of the late Bolling, according to a video posted in the Boston City Council’s  online archives.

Bruce Bolling was “the first person of color to hold council presidency in the history of this city,” Murphy said.

Bolling, a Roxbury resident, died Tuesday at his home, Yancey said. He was elected to the City Council in 1981, and became its president in 1986.

“Councilor Bolling never stopped serving the public, long before there was a Governor Patrick or even a President Obama, there was a president Bruce Bolling right here, in the Boston City Council,” Yancey said.

City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley said she was influenced by the Bolling family, “dubbed the black Kennedys.”

“We will miss our beloved Bruce,” Pressley said. “We will miss him as a public servant, as a loving husband and devoted father.”

Councilor Felix Arroyo and Yancey also presented a bill that would give families paid leave when they have a child.

The bill, he said, would allow parents to have four weeks paid leave and six weeks if the birth included a caesarian section.

Arroyo said the bill would also allow a two-week leave for adopted children and a one-week leave for partners.

Aside from Yancey, Pressley and Murphy, Councilors Matt O’Malley, Tito Jackson, Michael Ross, Bill Linehan and others added their name to the bill and referred it to the Committee on Labor, Youth Affairs and Health.

“I think this is a great opportunity for Boston to continue what is our example of being leaders when it comes to workers’ rights and workers’ protection,” Arroyo said.

Pressley also introduced My Life, My Choice, a “nationally recognized initiative to reach girls who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.”

“These are survivors — young women who have been exploited, often on the other side of the camera, who have now been empowered as photographers, to capture life as they see it and as they know it,” Pressley said.

MLMC Program Director Lisa Goldblatt Grace said that Boston City Hall is holding a MLMC exhibit, from August to September, created by victims in collaboration with the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership.

Goldblatt Grace said one artist chose to take pictures of the hotels she was sold in at the young age of 13.

“It looks like every other hotel in the Commonwealth,” Goldblatt Grace said.

MLMC Associate Director Audrey Porter, who said she was recovering from being recruited in the sex industry and substance abuse, shared her own experience at the meeting.

She said it was important for victims to know they can express themselves.

“When I was in the street at 16 years old, I remember [the police] would just lock us up, they would pick us up, but they never touched the pimps,” Porter said. “They stood on the corners, and we always were charged.”

Porter said many women who have been charged cannot find jobs and urged councilors to visit the exhibit.

Goldblatt Grace said she strongly supported the organization and their efforts in Boston.

“For us to say we are going to change the climate of the way that girls grow up in our city and [for us to say] that we are not going to tolerate this anymore,” Goldblatt Grace said. “We want to be your allies in that.”

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