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Mel King, Boston icon, dead at 94
By adamg on Tue, 03/28/2023 - 9:55pm
GBH reports the death of Mel King, director of the New Urban League of Greater Boston, state representative, candidate for mayor, educator and namesake of the Mel King Institute.
Continuing Mel King's Legacy, Fighting Racism and Economic Inequality.
Our Nelson Mandela.
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A man who has earned his peaceful rest. Thank you, Sir.
May he rest peacefully
King would say he'd want to rest in power
Reformers don't rest peacefully. I'm sure Mel King will still be looking for things that need fixing through eternity.
Politics for days
Wish they could have been that cordial to each others supporters back in to day, his win was what drove my parents out of city jobs...
Live by the sword die by the sword.
That's the difference between civil service and political appointments. The Kevin White administration which preceded Flynn, was not exactly known for being magnanimous to anyone outside their own circle. Name an elected official who has ever really acted in a different manner. To a victor belong the spoils.
I was talking about civil
I was talking about civil service positions, when the boss is an appointee, well, he gets his friends to fill the payroll.
Who are you referring to? The only elected office Mel King ever held was state representative. He was never in a position to make lots of hires and fires, or even influence them much. If you mean the people who lost jobs when Ray Flynn took over from Kevin White, that's just the way it works. Some people serve at the discretion of the mayor. And KHW had a system of ward coordinators and precinct captains, most on the city payroll. Most (not all) supported David Finnegan in the 1983 preliminary, who placed third.
He was a family friend and
He was a family friend and mentor to my dad. Rest in Peace and know that the world is a better place having had you with us.
Rest well, sir.
His presence in Roxbury was huge. I remember holding "Vote Mel" signs outside the Tobin as a kid. It's such a loss, but such a legacy...
Rest in Power King
Rest in Power King
Well deserved rest
A mostly forgotten idea
I think he overall leaves a great legacy and owns a good share of helping Boston to move beyond the scars left from bussing and promoting more unity in the city.
However, he was also a backer of the foolish idea to secede the minority neighborhoods of Boston to create a new city named Mandela. I don't remember the last time I've even seen that movement referenced, but it even gained a fair amount of media attention at the national level at the time.
In the end it would have removed those areas from access to the tax base of downtown and the high property value areas to create a standalone city that would have been deep in the red and dependent on state aid right out of the gate. Most residents seemed to recognize that as the balloting went very poorly in those neighborhoods which would have been part of it.
There are Mandela stickers
There are Mandela stickers around Lower Roxbury and the South End, some of which seem pretty recent. I think the idea may be more about agitation and awareness than actually seceding for real, and it still resonates with people today.
When King ran for mayor
As a young black guy growing up in Boston I definitely remember Mel King an I was a young follower, as I was proud to see him standing up for us in the 1980’s rest in power King.
Mel's tech center & his personal touch
I was a next door neighbor to Mel King and the South End Tech Center (at Tent City) he created, right when the computer lab was really taking off. I have a vague memory of helping fix the Macs, which was the least I could do since my son was coming there after school for free.
At one point we collaborated on trying to build a free public wireless network to serve Tent City and the Methunion coop building next door.
We also talked quite a bit about the idea of launching "Math Centers" in tech centers across the country, where mentors could help kids learn math - particularly Black and brown kids. Mel was part of the leadership of a national network of more than 1,000 community tech centers (CTC Net)... his eyes lit up when pointed out that all of those tech centers were "outside the control of the public school systems" and could therefore bypass the bureaucracy and politics of those systems.
Some years later I was walking by the tech center with my younger son and Mel was sitting on the bench out front, as he often did. My son was a teen by that point but had botched his summer job signup and had nothing lined up. Mel asked what he was doing that summer and offered him a job in the center on the spot. This was well into July, mind you!
I tried to explain to my son the significance of who had just given him a job but he didn't quite get it. Later that summer though, we were driving down Dartmouth Street and he spotted the relatively new mural of Mel on the McKinley School and understood. He and his mom vote at that very school.
Grateful to Mel not only for what he did on the macro level but what he did in so many personal interactions.