Boston Activist and Politician Mel King Sadly Passed Away
Longtime community advocate Mel King passed away at his home in Boston’s South End on March 28, 2023, and his son Michael King confirmed the heartbreaking news on Tuesday evening.
“He spoke truth to power, and he was pretty much beyond — above — reproach. That’s the openness and the example that he was trying to set. ‘It’s not that hard to do the right thing,’ is something that he would say,” Michael King said.
Joyce King said that her husband had been ill in recent months and had briefly been hospitalized at Boston Medical Center. Joyce added that Mel said three days ago he wanted to return home. “We knew that it was close,” she said.
Melvin Herbert King was born on October 20, 1928, and was an American politician, community organizer, and educator. In 1973, he was elected as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 9th Suffolk district.
He held the post until early 1983. Mel was the runner-up in the 1983 Boston mayoral election, against Raymond Flynn.
At the time of his death, King held the post of Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in their Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Legendary Leader Mel King Passed Away at 94
Civil rights icon Mel King passed away after months of illness at the age of 94, his wife, Joyce, told The Boston Globe. May he rest in peace.
Aside from his political career, King was a director of the New Urban League of Greater Boston and taught in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies.
In 2009, The Mel King Institute for Community Building was formed by the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Boston.
Upon his retirement from MIT, the legendary activist established the South End Technology Center to provide computer training for low-income people.
An intersection in Boston’s South End was named the “Melvin H. ‘Mel’ King Square” in his honor.
Reactions from public officials flowed in swiftly Tuesday night. Mayor Michelle Wu wrote in a statement: “For decades, Mel King taught us all how to serve, how to build, and how to love.”
“On behalf of the City of Boston, we send our deepest condolences to the King family and the many, many loved ones, mentees, and friends of Mel,” Michelle Wu added.
Boston City Councilor At-Large Ruthzee Louijeune tweeted: “Mel King has passed & is no longer with us in physical form, but his work & legacy endures in every corner of this city. I was so lucky to learn from him & his vision. What a legacy.”
Michael Curry, a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, talk about Mel King and paid touching tributes to him on Wednesday morning.
“Born and raised in Roxbury, a kid in a housing project, it was Mel King that advocated for communities, for residents, for people who were marginalized and socially vulnerable like myself, like the family I was raised in. So it’s deeply personal for me,” he said.
King was survived by his wife, the former Joyce Kenion, whom he married in 1951.
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