Mel King

Mel King is a community leader, political activist, and retired educator. Born on October 20, 1928 in Boston, Massachusetts, King studied mathematics at Claflin College from 1947 to 1951 and earned his M.A. from Boston State Teachers College in 1951. King is well-known for his role in fighting for affordable housing and services in the South End, particularly the battle against commercial developers and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in 1968. King's goal was to ensure that the city's Urban Renewal program provided affordable housing for South End residents. Originally working for Community Assembly for a Unified South End (CAUSE), King led protests against the Boston Redevelopment Authority plans to demolish housing and construct a parking garage. King and his supporters built a temporary tent city and lived on the demolished housing until developers agreed to construct a new housing complex which was named "Tent City". In 1973, King was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the 9th Suffolk district. In 1983, after vacating his seat in the House, King ran for mayor of Boston, winning the primary vote, but losing the general election to Raymond Flynn. From 1970 to 1996, King was an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and established the Community Fellows Program in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. In 1983, he established the Rainbow Coalition Party. He also created the South End Technology Center at Tent City, a joint venture between MIT and the Tent City Corporation which provides free or low-cost computer training to members of the Boston community.

This interview is from the Ronald W. Bailey Oral History Collection

Media

Video

An Interview with Mel King [video recording]

Transcript

An Interview with Mel King [transcript]