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Kenneth E. Reeves

The former Mayor of Cambridge reflects on his experience as a public servant

The former Mayor of Cambridge reflects on his experience as a public servant

Kenneth E. Reeves
Dr. Martin Luther King Visiting Scholar at 
MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Former Cambridge Mayor and City Councilor 

Mr. Reeves was born in Detroit, Michigan and first moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard University as an undergraduate.  After working in private law practice in Detroit, Boston and Cambridge, he was elected to the Cambridge City Council. During the 24 years he served on the Cambridge City Council, he served three terms as Mayor. 

While serving in politics he was an innovator around programs to enhance the quality of life in Cambridge.  He has been an advocate for affordable housing and vibrant neighborhoods and business districts, including Central and Kendall Squares. He has had an on going relationship with MIT for many years. 

Mr. Reeves received a bachelor’s degree in American History from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.  

Highlights of this interview include:
•    An overview of the projects Mr. Reeves is working on during his time as a visiting scholar at MIT.
•    Reflections on the role of his mentor, former Cambridge City Councilor and Mayor Al Vellucci, on the development of Kendall Square. 
•    Story of the failed plan to locate a NASA science research center in Kendall Square and the urban renewal dilemma that followed. 
•    The current redevelopment plans underway in Central Square.
•    Recounts the election in 2013 when he was not re-elected to the Cambridge City Council. 
•    The effect that the end of rent control has had on development in Cambridge. 
•    Role of city planning in the development process in Central Square, Kendall Square and Alewife.  “How You Get the Sausage That You Want to Be Made.”
•    Reflects on his childhood growing up in Detroit and attending Cass Tech High School.
•    Path that he took to eventually end up in Cambridge as an undergrad at Harvard. 
•    Experience as an African American student at Harvard in the era of being young, gifted and black.
•    Studied in West Africa on a Michael Clark Rockefeller fellowship and then attended University of Michigan Law School.
•    Ended up marrying his college roommate in a relationship that has lasted for 47 years. 
•    Path that lead him to run for Cambridge City Council. 
•    Thoughts on how to build affordable housing in Cambridge.
•    Started the Baby University in Cambridge to help parents get their kids ready to succeed in school.
•    Reflects on his legacy – especially the new Cambridge Public Library, the Cambridge Caribbean Carnival and the Cambridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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