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‘He showed us the potential of this City on a Hill’: How Mel King is being remembered in Boston

“His impact and legacy stretch across the boundaries of neighborhood, race, class, and status.”

Melvin "Mel" H. King celebrates at the Parker House in Boston on Oct. 11, 1983, after finding out he made it into the final round of elections for Boston mayor.
Melvin "Mel" H. King celebrates at the Parker House in Boston on Oct. 11, 1983, after finding out he made it into the final round of elections for Boston mayor. Wendy Maeda / The Boston Globe

Elected officials, activists, and members of the community are mourning the death of Mel King, the civil rights icon and former state representative for the South End who in 1983 became the first Black person to make it onto a general election ballot as a Boston mayoral candidate.

As news of the 94-year-old’s passing at his home on Tuesday morning spread, people shared tributes and memories of King, writing about how he inspired them, the significance of the path he forged, and the legacy he leaves behind. 

“All of us can trace our roots, our ideas, our inspiration, our pride, our wisdom back to one individual — the King,” Segun Idowu, the chief of Boston’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion and the former CEO of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, wrote.

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Michael Curry, the former president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, wrote that Boston is a “better city” because of King. 

“He showed us the potential of this City on a Hill in 1983 when he ran for Mayor,” he wrote. 

“For decades, Mel King taught us all how to serve, how to build, and how to love,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “His impact and legacy stretch across the boundaries of neighborhood, race, class, and status.”

Below, see the tributes and memories being shared, honoring King. 

Michael Curry, former president of the Boston branch of the NAACP

Segun Idowu, chief of Boston’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion

James “Jimmy” Hills, host of “Java with Jimmy”

Tito Jackson, former Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate

Gov. Maura Healey

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Ed Markey

Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins

Marty Walsh, former Boston mayor

State Sen. Lydia Edwards

Rep. Ayanna Pressley

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