Meet Priscilla Flint-Banks. At 66, she is the co-founder of the Black Economic Justice Institute. And as of Wednesday, Flint-Banks is the newest member of the seven-member Boston Employment Commission, which is supposed to make sure that Blacks, Latinos, women and other under-represented groups get their fair share of jobs on city-financed construction projects.
By city rules, those numbers should be 51 percent of project work hours for residents, 40 percent for people of color and 12 percent for women. According to the city's latest numbers, only 27 percent of the work hours went to residents. Thirty-eight percent went to people of color and 7 percent went to women.
Flint-Banks said she co-founded her non-profit with her husband, in part, because of the historic lack of developer compliance with the city rules.
She told GBH News she intends to push the issue from her new, public perch.
“I feel like this gives me a voice for the community to help the people that need these jobs,” she said. “I feel strange because I never thought that I would get here, but I still feel like I'm on the outside … because of the fact that it's going to be really hard trying to get these contractors and developers to comply.”
Flint-Banks’ appointment comes as Boston’s mayoral race, which has several candidates of color, has trained a focus on long-standing disparities.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who is seeking a full term, has campaigned on rectifying inequities throughout the city and appointed to Flint-Banks to the commission.
“She is a long-time advocate and community organizer who has worked tirelessly for greater equity in the City of Boston,” said Janey.
The move also comes as Boston grapples with a federal legal complaint over its public contracting system.
Advocates filed the complaint and pointed to the results of a city-commissioned disparity study, which revealed that minority businesses reap only a fraction of the billions of public dollars spent with contractors for goods and services.
The Justice Department has since begun facilitating conversations between the city and the advocates who brought the complaints.
GBH News covered Boston’s woeful record on diversity and inclusion in city contracts as part of its Color of Public Money series.
Chairman Travis Watson praised the addition.
“I look forward to getting in some real good trouble with you in the near future,” he said.