City, News

City Council recognizes retiring employee, honors Harriet Tubman

By Chris Che (Sicheng) and Samantha Genzer

Boston City Council recognized Juan Aurelio Lopez’s retirement and adopted a resolution recognizing Harriet Tubman at Wednesday’s city council meeting. 

Boston City Hall. This week’s city council meeting celebrated the retirement of a longtime employee and presented a resolution recognizing Harriet Tubman to celebrate Black History Month. YITONG LI/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

After 46 years of service, members of the Boston City Council and Mayor Michelle Wu thanked Lopez, a longtime research and policy director, and presented him with several retirement gifts. 

Lopez served in both the executive and legislative branches in the city council and was involved in various community and civic organizations.

“He not only has been such an inspiration and a mentor for generations of young people coming up through government,” Mayor Wu said. “He has been a voice outside these walls also, constantly finding ways to connect people to the work that’s happening inside.” 

The city council passed a resolution to honor Lopez. Docket 0410 recognizes Feb. 29, 2024, Lopez’s birthday, as “Juan Aurelio Lopez Day” in Boston. 

Mayor Wu said Lopez, who worked extensively with the Latino community throughout his career, will be remembered for his years “opening doors within city hall” as its official tour guide and as a mentor for “generations of young people coming up through government.”

Lopez said he will continue to serve on the commemoration committee to continue celebrating diversity in Boston, acknowledging the strides the city has made.

“Looking around here, you can’t imagine how happy I am,” Lopez said. “God bless the city of Boston.”

The city council also presented Docket 0405, a resolution recognizing Harriet Tubman. 

The resolution highlights Tubman’s escape from slavery and her 13 missions liberating anywhere from 70 to 200 people. Tubman’s involvement in the Civil War, her leadership in the Combahee Ferry raid and her later participation in the Women’s Suffrage Movement are also recognized. 

Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, the sponsor of the resolution, spoke to the importance of the resolution for  “all women today and in closing … of Black History Month.”

“Ms. Tubman is beautiful in all the ways one can be beautiful,” she said. “Respect this Black woman, and let us grace her spirit with the love and admiration she deserves.” 

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