Bruce Bolling, Boston City Councilor

[caption id="attachment2349" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="">Bruce Bolling interview Bruce Bolling interview about his possible mayoral candidacy. Watch the full story.[/caption]

Bruce Bolling was the first black Boston City Council President. He came from a prominent political family; his father Royal Bolling, Sr. was a state senator, and his older brother Royal Bolling, Jr. was a state representative. He was elected to the Council in 1981 and was elected its president in 1986. By the late 1980s, people started predicting Bolling would be Boston’s first black mayor. He ran for the office in 1993, when he lost to Thomas Menino (a race in which our very own Ten O’Clock News anchor, Christopher Lydon, also ran).

In his time on the City Council, Bolling was an advocate for the African American community working together and fighting to have its voice heard in Boston politics. In the late 1980s members of the African American community living in Roxbury challenged that position. Community leaders proposed a plan where Roxbury would divest from Boston, and set up its own municipality called Mandela. The proposal failed in 1986. Later, in 1988 the same leaders redoubled their efforts and tried once more. It failed again, and Roxbury continues to be a part of the City of Boston. As the City Council President Bolling fought against this proposal, urging people to fight to be represented within Boston, rather than abandoning it. In this Ten O’Clock News report, Marcus Jones features an argument Bolling made against Mandela on the Phil Donahue talk show, where he says that the new leadership of Boston is here and their time has come.

[caption id="attachment2348" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href="">Bruce Bolling press conference Bruce Bolling argues for economic development in Roxbury. Watch the full story.[/caption]

Later in his career, Bolling continued to work for fair treatment of all Boston citizens. In this news report, he supports a fair housing proposal worked on by the City Council and Mayor Ray Flynn. By 1989, Bolling and many of the Roxbury community leaders he had fought against about Mandela, were back on the same side, fighting to bring economic development to Roxbury. This series of reports documents the combined efforts of these leaders to bring the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority headquarters to Roxbury, where it would lead to jobs and better housing for the surrounding community.

The stories in our collections that have been digitized so far show many of the political battles that Bolling fought during his career. In the rest of our collections there are many other stories about Bolling, highlighting other parts of his career, and perhaps even shedding more light on him as a person. If you’d like to see more of Bruce Bolling, you can read through our other stories and select any that you’d like to sponsor for digitization.