For Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, the galvanizing event was a family health emergency. For Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, it was picking up from failure and reconnecting with her purpose.
At this month’s meeting of “The Breakfast Club,” these trailblazing leaders relayed deeply personal stories of perseverance and triumph. For both, lived experience inspired their paths to politics. The past continues to drive their fight for equity today.
This monthly power breakfast is hosted by Tommy Amaker, the Thomas G. Stemberg ’71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men’s Basketball. The informal networking group draws a few dozen Harvard faculty members and notables from Boston’s Black community. Regulars include former U.S. Sen. William “Mo” Cowen and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., the Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
Amaker invites a few basketball players, too, taking care to seat them near the featured guests. “The mayors’ stories were extremely moving but also very different,” observed basketball player Tommy O’Neil ’23, a government concentrator with a secondary in educational studies. “My biggest takeaway is that there’s no direct path to public service.”
At the Breakfast Club, meaty topics like race, politics, and social justice go perfectly with orange juice and eggs. Past speakers include U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and former President Barack Obama. This time Amaker invited the mayors for appearances timed to Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Their remarks were strictly off-the-record, in keeping with the “house rules” Amaker set for the first club meeting 15 years ago. Both officeholders later agreed that the broad contours of their messages could be shared.
“Everyone in this room was blown away by our two mayors,” Amaker said as his guests exited the event (and at least one wiped away tears). “We’re lucky to have them as our leaders.”