Attorney General Andrea Campbell, who was sworn in Wednesday as the first Black woman to hold that job or any statewide office in Massachusetts, said she wants to use her new role to build safer and healthier communities, stand up for reproductive rights and ensure the next generation is better off than the last.
“I deeply understand the magnitude of this historic day and that it is more than a personal triumph,” she said after taking her oath in a ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. “My hope is that every day, women and young people who look like me and see the incredible work of this office will feel less invisible, despairing and lonely because there continues to be a shining example of what is possible.”
The state’s newly minted top prosecutor said her early tasks include forming an elder justice unit, a reproductive justice unit and an office of gun safety enforcement.
In her inaugural address, she listed off several issues she hopes to tackle: going after wage theft, building transparency in prisons and in the juvenile justice system, promoting green energy and taking on corruption. Afterwards, Campbell told reporters her work will involve “redefining what public corruption is.”
“It’s not just the misappropriation of funds or elected officials, or public officials, who are not acting accordingly,” she said. “For me, it’s also criminal legal reform. It’s looking at our state agencies that are not meeting the mark, not transparent, and that may need to be held accountable. It’s a broad vision but it’s one that the office is fully capable of.”
Seven years after she won a seat on the Boston City Council in her first bid for office, Campbell emerged as a statewide force, besting fellow Democrat Shannon Liss-Riordan in the primary for attorney general and cruising to a general-election win over Republican Jay McMahon. In between, she made history as the first Black woman to serve as Boston’s city council president.
Campbell said she stands “on the shoulders of a beautiful and resilient Black people who stood up for civil rights, for freedom, inclusion, love — including interracial love.” She took a moment to thank another trailblazer to have held the same office: Edward Brooke III, who, before representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, was the first African American state attorney general in the country.
Campbell took her oath and swore in her assistant attorney generals in a ceremony attended by top state officials including Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll. Students from Dorchester’s Codman Academy Charter Public School led the pledge of allegiance and several of her family members played key roles.
Lois Savage, a relative who helped raise Campbell after the death of her biological parents and was introduced Wednesday as her mom, administered the oath, while Campbell’s husband, Matthew Scheier, held the Bible and microphone. Her uncle and father figure, Ron Savage, performed a drum solo after she spoke.
Campbell shared her family’s story during her speech, describing her childhood as “filled with incredible instability.”
When she was a baby, her mother died in a car crash on the way to visit Campbell’s father in prison. Campbell’s father died unexpectedly when she was 19, and her twin brother Andre died in Department of Correction custody as a pretrial detainee 10 years later. The first in her family to go to college, Campbell graduated from Princeton University and the UCLA School of Law.
“There are some who want us to feel shame in our stories or even try to weaponize them against us,” Campbell said. “My response is always twofold: no weapon formed against me will prosper, and because of our family history, struggle, encounters with the law and the legal system, our experiences, our realizations, it begs the question: who better to do the job, to take on the challenge and to do this critical work?”
Campbell’s inauguration was one of a series throughout the day for the state’s constitutional officers. Reelected Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Secretary of State Bill Galvin were sworn in at the State House, and new Auditor Diana DiZoglio planned hers for the evening at Methuen High School, her alma mater.
Like Healey and Driscoll — who underwrote their inaugural bash at the TD Garden with $1.8 million in donations they collected last December — Campbell funded her festivities with donations to a separate inaugural committee.
Campbell’s inaugural committee so far has reported $117,500 in contributions, including donations of $10,000 each from the Kraft Group, Davio’s restaurants, Mackay Construction Services in Wilmington, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the political action committee for the Laborers’ International Union of North America.