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The Honorable Melvin King

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Information about The Honorable Melvin King

Profile image of The Honorable Melvin King

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Community Activist
State Representative

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
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Favorite Time of Year:
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Favorite Vacation Spot:
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Favorite Quote:
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Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1928
Birth Location:
Boston, Massachusetts

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Community Activist
State Representative

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1928
Birth Location:
Boston
See how The Honorable Melvin King is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Across the landscape of neighborhoods and politics of Boston, Massachusetts, Melvin H. King is a household name. Simultaneously, for over fifty-five years, he has been an educator, youth worker, social activist, community organizer and developer, elected politician, author, and an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is responsible for creating community programs and institutions that have positively changed the lives of low-income, grassroots people across the city of Boston. He is the founder and current director of the South End Technology Center.

King’s mother, Ursula, was born in Guyana, and his father, Watts King, in Barbados. They met and married in Nova Scotia and immigrated to Boston in the early 1920s. King, born in 1928 in Boston’s South End neighborhood, was one of eight children born to the Kings between 1918 and 1938. He graduated from Boston Technical High School in 1946 and from Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1950 with his B.S. degree in mathematics. In 1951, he received his M.A. degree in education from Teacher's College of the City of Boston and then taught math, first at Boston Trade High School and at his alma mater, Boston Technical High School.

In 1953, King left the classroom to work with at risk youth, becoming Director of Boy’s Work at Lincoln House, a settlement house in Boston’s South End community. He continued his community work focusing on street corner gangs as Youth Director at United South End Settlements (USES). He also worked as a community activist and urban renewal and anti-poverty organizer. He was let go by USES when he promoted and supported neighborhood control versus USES and government control over the urban renewal and federal funds to assist poor people. King was then rehired after protests from the community over his firing and was given the job as a community organizer. King, then founded the Community Assembly for a United South End (C.A.U.S.E.), to give tenants and community residents a voice in their communities.

In 1967, King moved to the directorship of the New Urban League of Greater Boston. He brought job training for the unemployed and organized the community around public school, employment, and human services delivery issues.

King ran three times for a seat on the Boston School Committee in 1961, 1963 and 1965, being unsuccessful each time. However, his citywide political organizing for these campaigns paid off. In 1973, he was elected as a state representative for the 9th Suffolk District and served in the Massachusetts Legislature until 1982.

In 1983, King ran for mayor of Boston and nearly beat the incumbent, Raymond Flynn. Out of this historic campaign, King established a Rainbow Coalition Party, a first for Boston and a model for the Rainbow Coalition Party created by Rev. Jesse Jackson.

In 1981, King’s book, Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development, was published by South End Press. It focused on development in housing, education, employment and politics in Boston from the 1950s through the 1970s.

In 1970, King created the Community Fellows Program (CFP) in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. He served as an adjunct professor of Urban Studies and Planning and director of the Community Fellows Program for twenty-five years until 1996. CFP, a nine-month long program, brought community organizers and leaders from across America to reflect, research and study urban community politics, economics, social life, education, housing and media.

Upon his retirement from MIT, King established the South End Technology Center to provide computer training for low-income people.

In 2003, King created The New Majority, an organization and program uniting Boston’s communities of color around candidates for elective office.

In addition to writing Chain of Change and journal articles, King has used poetry to share his messages.

King and his wife, Joyce, married in 1951, are parents of six children.

See how The Honorable Melvin King is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Melvin King's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about his mother's life in Canada
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his mother's religious involvement
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers helping with the housework
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his mother's nickname
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his father's work in Canada
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his parents' return to Barbados
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers a family reunion in Barbados
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his parents' move to Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his community in Boston's South End
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about his father's career and union activity
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King lists his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his family's traditions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers his mother's cooking
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers the foods of Boston's South End
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about corporal punishment in schools
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his elementary school experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls the Quincy School in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King describes Boston Technical High School in Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his experiences of discrimination at Boston Technical High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his decision to attend Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his arrival at Claflin University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his disappointment with Claflin University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his positive experiences at Claflin University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his education at Claflin University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about Jackie Robinson's career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his summer employment
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his wife and children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his early community involvement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers the Lincoln House in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his work at the Lincoln House, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his work at Lincoln House, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his accomplishments at the Lincoln House
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King explains his dismissal from the Lincoln House
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers his return to the Lincoln House
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King describes the failures of Boston's schools
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his campaigns for the Boston School Committee
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King describes the Community Assembly for a Unified South End
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls becoming a youth worker
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King describes the changes in youth culture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his approach to youth work
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls the urban renewal of Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls founding the Community Assembly for a Unified South End
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls forming Tent City in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King his early political involvement
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his first election
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls running for Boston School Committee
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his work with the New Urban League of Greater Boston
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his challenges as director of the New Urban League of Greater Boston
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King describes the programs of the New Urban League of Greater Boston
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers his criticism of United Way Worldwide
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King reflects upon his leadership of the Urban League
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls the need for the Community Fellows Program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King remembers founding the Community Fellows Program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King describes the Community Fellows Program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King reflects upon the Community Fellows Program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his decision to run for Massachusetts state representative
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his campaign for the Massachusetts state legislature
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about the Black Legislative Caucus
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his legislative work
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his legislative achievements
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls his mayoral campaign in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King recalls creating the South End Technology Center
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - The Honorable Melvin King considers the uniqueness of the Community Fellows Program
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about the New Majority Coalition
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his book, 'Chain of Change,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - The Honorable Melvin King describes his book, 'Chain of Change,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about his love of poetry
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - The Honorable Melvin King talks about his relationship with his wife
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - The Honorable Melvin King reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - The Honorable Melvin King describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - The Honorable Melvin King narrates his photographs