EDITOR’S NOTE: The following remarks were delivered at the funeral service of Georgette Watson, held at Global Ministries Christian Church on Monday, Sept. 8, 2008.
We are thankful to Rev. Bruce Wall for bringing us together in this memorial service for one of Boston’s legendary residents, Georgette Watson.
To read her obituary in the newspaper doesn’t begin to describe who she was and what she meant to Boston, the city she loved.
One aspect of her life that deserves special mention: In almost every known situation when drug dealers were openly destroying lives, families and neighborhoods, it was because good people were afraid to tell the police who they were. Maybe it was because they were afraid of retaliation or it was the code of silence that we still hear about in many neighborhoods.
But courageously, Georgette Watson and Rev. Bruce Wall and others were not afraid to work with the police and city hall to put drug dealers behind bars. Their success in working cooperatively with the police and courts dramatically and positively impacted many Boston neighborhoods.
Let me tell you what her efforts achieved and why she was effective:
Georgette had street credibility. Residents believed in her. The authorities trusted her. She was not afraid of anybody. She could and would walk unannounced in the mayor’s office to demand more resources and attention.
For Georgette, it just wasn’t about putting people in jail. It was also about helping them when they were released from jail. Even more importantly, it was about helping the youth before they found trouble.
We always read about the young people in trouble. But we rarely heard anything about most of the other young people who attend school, work a little job, play sports and never get into trouble.
We often hear in politics — mostly ridiculing the term — “community organizer and activist.” Well, Georgette Watson was one of those community activists and she made a positive difference in our city.
I see no more Georgette Watsons in the neighborhoods anymore. But I see a lot of drug dealers.
She lived to make Boston safer. She also knew that she couldn’t do it alone. Georgette knew it was important to work with the police, the clergy, political leaders and the good, law-abiding people of Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester.
She also knew that it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes good people like you to get involved and help make a difference.
Georgette Watson made a difference. Let’s follow her example of determination with compassion.
Raymond L. Flynn
Former Mayor of Boston and U.S. Ambassador