July 7, 2021
On the morning of April 20th, students gathered on Zoom for “When I’m Mayor,” the first in a series of eight creative writing workshops run by 826 Boston. In these workshops, students explored the thrilling experience of being elected the new Mayor of Boston while learning how to give a great inauguration speech filled with reforms and recommendations they truly believed in. It was an honor to witness first-hand their heartfelt hellos, far-reaching ideas, potent personal connections, and comprehensive solutions to Boston’s most compelling community issues. To get into the right headspace, students brainstormed what makes a great speech, explored the elements of infamous historical speeches, and worked with workshop leaders to deconstruct them. Students took inspiration from these examples but also broke from them in monumental ways. Now, let’s look at what you’ve all been waiting for: Our new mayors’ speeches!
Each and every mayor started by greeting their audience and thanking their loved ones, supporters, campaign volunteers—and even their favorite restaurants—for their victory. “Hello, Boston!” Mayor Brian proclaimed at the start of his inauguration speech, while Mayor Adheesh exclaimed, “Greetings fellow citizens!” Mayor Jessica went on to thank her family and wrote that she “couldn’t be [there] without the support of [her] parents, [her] brothers, and [her] friends.” On a rather comical note, Mayor Zachary, after expressing gratitude for his family and friends, thanked one of his campaigners, saying “I couldn’t be here without Harry, who is one of those annoying guys who goes around trying to convince you to vote for me.”
None of the mayors had any trouble listing countless close friends, family members, peers, and teachers who supported, guided, and cheered them on throughout their arduous campaign trail; their admiration for their mentors, idols, and motivators was heard loud and clear as their voices boomed across the virtual banquet hall. Shortly after their opening remarks, each mayor shared solutions for issues they were particularly passionate about, and many students spoke up about issues they thought were being put on the back burner in the city of Boston. Moreover, students discussed their own personal experiences and why these specific issues pressed so profoundly upon their hearts; some of them had worked first-hand on resolving the issues through previous community service, while others had known a close friend or family member who had struggled with such obstacles amid their community, whether it be homelessness, inaccessibility to sufficient healthcare, or discrimination.
Mayor Zachary, concerned about the damaged roads around Boston, proposed paying construction workers to fix potholes. He also promised to reduce the price of pizza by thirty percent and endorse a “buy one, get one free” deal with Oreo once the roads were sufficiently fixed. These incentives, on top of tangible reform, made Zachary’s ideas very popular. Mayor Laima said she wanted to “make Boston a better place by making every race equal, not just for [her], but for everyone struggling with racism.” Mayor Laima also said she would fight for the acceptance of all gender identities, particularly because of a time her gender had been misidentified; Laima still remembered how uncomfortable it had made her. Another student, Mayor Jessica, rallied her supporters to end Asian hate crimes afflicting Boston “because [people] should all be treated equally no matter what [their] race or skin color is.” She wrote, “After the coronavirus originated in China, the hate crimes towards Asians began to increase, which is unacceptable since no one deserves to be a victim of violence or acts of racism.” Her solution: increase the consequences of these crimes by enacting additional laws against them.
Furthermore, Mayor Sudhi vowed to implement numerous measures within the city to prevent homelessness and the many hardships inextricably linked to chronic lack of shelter. He wrote, “This is an important issue to me because seeing people in such horrible conditions is hard” particularly because “in India, there are so many people on the road begging for money for food,” people that he and his family had tried to help. Mayor Sudhi offered to help cure houselessness by telling “engineers to build an apartment with a room for everyone” and giving “them some shelter, food, and clothes.” Students ran with their ideas, and many showed that a better place can also be one with great imagination that encourages fun, silliness, and kindness. Some mayors advocated for “eating more caramel,” cutting down the price on the tastiest of treats (pizza included), and, as promised by Mayor Suhil, giving away free chocolate.
Their speeches ended with grand calls to action and excerpts from well-known activists or mentors that spoke to them personally and connected to the issues they intended to address. Mayor Suhil declared, “Timothy Pina said ‘Homelessness is neither a disease nor a crime, but a very serious problem!’” while Mayor Laima proclaimed “‘STOP CLIMATE CHANGE!’” because I am the future.” Their last words reverberated powerfully throughout the virtual celebrations and brought the audience together for a moment of collective appreciation for the mayors’ ambitious and optimistic measures.
826 Boston will be hosting more “When I’m Mayor” writing workshops in the coming year and will produce a book of student speeches from across the city slated to be released ahead of Boston’s mayoral election in November 2021. For more information, visit https://826boston.org/mayor/, and, if you’ve been inspired by these students, please do not hesitate to add your own speech to the mix; we would love to hear from you!