msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell explored the dark past of his hometown Boston in his latest Rewrite segment, and noted its bright future.
“The Boston I grew up in has been busy rewriting itself since I left in the mid-1980s,” said O’Donnell, who lived in the Dorchester neighborhood of the city. “In my Boston, it wasn’t even slightly weird that the president of the Senate had a brother who was a gangster and a murderer.” He was referring to Billy Bulger, the powerful former state senator who represented O’Donnell’s district in the Massachusetts legislature, and his fugitive brother, Whitey Bulger, who was wanted for multiple murders.
“Families in my neighborhood had outcomes like that. We didn’t have to answer for our brothers,” said O’Donnell. “A gangster brother would sink you in politics anywhere else, but not in my Boston.”
O’Donnell also referred to an iconic picture taken by Pulitzer Prize winner Stanley Forman that tells the “ugliest truth” about the city. “I’ll never forget the black man’s name, Ted Landsmark. He was walking near city hall when he was attacked for nothing other than the color of his skin,” he said. “The school buses carrying black children into Billy Bulger’s district were stoned. They threw eggs at Ted Kennedy in those days.”
But The Last Word host said the Boston he grew up with, a place once “seething with hatred and racism,” has changed. And the face of that change is Linda Dorceena Forry, who is now ushering in a new era for the neighborhood. The Haitian-American woman won a state Senate seat, as O’Donnell described, typically “occupied by white guys from South Boston.”
“The winner in the race for what was once Billy Bulger’s seat in the Massachusetts Senate is the Dorchester daughter of Haitian immigrants. She will be the only black member of the Massachusetts Senate,” said O’Donnell. “It’s not my Boston anymore…and that is a very, very good thing.”