Linda Dorcena-Forry was a rising star in Massachusetts politics. A Haitian American, she was the highest ranking elected black official in the state. So many were shocked to hear she was leaving. Wednesday, they came to the Statehouse to say goodbye.
Dorcena-Forry choked up as she thanked her colleagues during her farewell speech in the House chamber where she served five terms. In 2013, she became the first non Irish-American in more than 50 years to hold the Senate seat from South Boston.
"It is time. I mean, 22 years is a long time to be in public service," said Dorcena-Forry.
She leaves the Senate without one black member, a substantial loss she acknowledges she thought hard about: "No doubt, it’s a gap. And a significant one. Sometimes, you have to step out and do things I would say for myself. For my family."
A popular senator, Dorcena-Forry was known for her ability to reach across the aisle which came through in the speech she gave from the house chamber rostrum.
"There is no one here in this building whom I can’t work with and no one in this building who I can’t laugh with and find common ground," she said.
The event drew more than 100 lawmakers and other leaders including Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Deval Patrick who said "you heard from her remarks today why she is so beloved and frankly why we hunger for that kind of collaboration and collegiality in this legislature and beyond."
"Honestly I’ve never heard a cross word come out of her mouth. We didn’t always agree, but we always got along," said Gov. Baker.
No longer the Senator from South Boston, Forry will not be hosting Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast but she says it will go on... even without a host.