Boston ( WBUR.ORG) – Mel King, perhaps the most prominent activist and Black politician of Boston’s 20th century, has died at age 94.
His son, Michael King, said his father died in his sleep Tuesday afternoon at home.
In a city that touts its history as a temporary home to two giants of the civil-rights movement, King was 100% home-grown.
His name is revered by generations of activists and artists, like Jamarhl Crawford of Roxbury. Crawford said King was “our Nelson Mandela… ambassador-like, statesmanlike.”
The writer Junot Díaz — a colleague of King’s at MIT — called King a person of “visionary emancipatory importance.”
“Boston always be going on about the Kennedys, but they should really be building monuments to Mel King,” he said.
King was a tireless organizer for decades — a natural leader, friends said — fighting against apartheid and multiple wars, and in favor of affordable housing, good paying jobs and more. Already in 1978, Ruth Batson, who started the METCO program, told WGBH she wasn’t aware of a promising city initiative that King hadn’t started or helped along — and always in a collaborative spirit.’