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Well it really wasn’t Havana, it was Fisher College on Commonwealth Avenue but that was the theme of the food, music and dancing. Over 300 residents of Massachusetts and community activists were there last night to honor outgoing State Senator Jarrett Barrios. The event was sponsored by The Commonwealth Seminar — MassCS, the organization that Barrios and Joel Barrera founded in 2003 “to invite diverse leaders into the State House to demystify the legislative process and encourage deeper, more substantial, advocacy on Beacon Hill.”
The organization works to open the doors to the State House for “leaders from communities of color, immigrant groups, and others who directly benefit those communities.” One of their prominent programs is an intensive six week training course which takes place at the the State House. Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon is a graduate of that program.
Also two years ago, they “launched Commonwealth Jobs, a free online resource that posts public service job openings as a way to encourage our diverse leaders toward a professional commitment to government and non-profit service.”
In his address to the gathering the animated Barrios urged everyone to keep the “doors open” and take our rightful place at the legislative table.
Barrera served as MC for the evening. A number of speakers addressed the gathering including Barrios’ husband, Doug Hattaway, a Democratic Party operative in his own right; Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Phil Johnston, the past Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. Barrios is leaving the State Legislature to become the Foundation’s President..
As I was listening to the speakers last night, I realized that this year’s Lowell’s municipal election will not have much ethnic, racial and religious diversity but perhaps in two years we can begin to reverse that trend and MassCS can help us.
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