If you know anything about South Boston it is probably from the busing crisis of the 1970s when images flashed across the country and no one could believe they were from Boston and not Mississippi or Georgia. Images like these.
Or maybe it is from reading “Common Ground”, the Pulizer Prize winner by J. Anthony Lukas which followed families through the crisis. If this is what you remember, it has all just changed.
Yesterday, May 1, 2013, we all woke up to the reality that the next state senator from the district that includes South Boston will be Linda Dorcena Forry. The “Southie Seat” has moved into a new era. Boston has changed.
Linda Dorcena Forry held her daughter Madeline Forry, 2, as she celebrated a possible close victory at Phillips Freeport Tavern in Dorchester. (taken before Nick Collins conceded.)
Linda is Haitian-American married to Bill Forry the Irish American publisher of the Dorchester (MA) Reporter. South Boston, like it or not, is represented by a woman of color from a mixed marriage. My fearless prediction: they will come to love her. I have yet to meet anyone who can resist her enthusiasm and energy – or any of her four children. I first met her nine years ago, before she ran for office, and have followed her career ever since. She will win over those Collins (and Dahill) voters from Southie. The Globe story this morning points out
The race was no easy win for Forry. The Wednesday morning hugs and handshakes among her, Collins, and Dahill came as the candidates were processing an Election Day fraught with mishaps. Voting day began with incorrect ballots distributed at some South Boston polling locations. Then, as votes were being counted that evening, the Associated Press erroneously declared Collins the winner, only for the final tally to show Forry with a 378-vote lead.
Forry’s path to victory was carved in Dorchester, Hyde Park, and Mattapan, and despite her poor showing in South Boston.
She will have the support of Collins (no word on Dahill) and of former Mayor, Ray Flynn.
For decades, men from South Boston have held the First Suffolk seat, which also includes Mattapan and a portion of Hyde Park.
Jack Hart Jr., who resigned the seat in January to take a job with a law firm, has held it since 2002, when he was elected to replace US Representative Stephen Lynch, a native of South boston. Before Lynch, the seat was held for 25 years by William Bulger.
“I never refer to it as the Southie seat,” Hart said in an interview Wednesday. “The reason South Boston has historically held that seat is because they’ve had higher turnout.”
Now, Hart and other members of South Boston’s political old guard insist that residents will unite behind any leader, from any part of the district, who listens to their needs. That includes Forry, a Haitian-
American, who finished a distant third among South Boston voter.
I know Linda and she will be out there with her family and the South Boston residents she meets will fall in love the way the rest of us who know her have. Times have changed.
“I thought Collins should have won it,” said Bill Barrett, a 65-year-old South Boston resident, as he sat on the park benches on Castle Island, where people gather to catch a sea breeze and gossip. “It’s been a long time since that seat has left South Boston, but [Forry] seems like a nice lady.”
Barrett said that the neighborhood and district are different from those he remembers as a young man, but that change is not always bad.
“Change can be good,” said Barrett, who is retired. “There are a lot of young people moving into South Boston, but I think Dorchester also wanted a voice, too.”
She still has to win the special general election but her opponent, Dorchester native Joseph Anthony Ureneck, has already all but conceded. It will be fun to see Linda inject some life into the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast next year.
Photograph of Forry Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe
Photographs of busing from democratandchronicle.com, civilrights.wikispaces and busingproject.blogspot.com