BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston is remembering the legacy of longtime civil rights activist Mel King after King died at the age of 94 on Tuesday.
An iconic civil rights leader and trailblazing politician, King is being remembered for his commitment to help ease Boston’s racial divide.
“It is a loss for the city of Boston and the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Gov. Maura Healey said.
King served in the state legislature for almost a decade and was the first Black person to reach the Boston general mayoral election.
King’s opponent in the 1983 mayoral race — Former Mayor Ray Flynn — said the two became close friends during the campaign. The groundbreaking race, Flynn said, was “good for the city.”
Former Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts President Darnell Williams said King “was an advocate for the folks who were not at the table.”
Williams continued, saying King unified Boston during a divisive time.
“We may have a difference of opinion,” Williams said. “We may have a different approach to getting there. But we have a common goal and that is the goal of humanity”
In that spirit, King created the Rainbow Coalition Party — a movement with a mission of inclusivity.
King was also a strong advocate for those in his South End neighborhood, specifically on the issue of affordable housing.
Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh paid tribute this week, calling King “a trailblazing civil rights icon and a blessing to our city.”
“Mel King: rest in power, my friend,” Walsh said.
Healey held a moment of silence for King as she spoke on his legacy during an event Wednesday.
Healey also ordered flags at all state buildings to be lowered to half staff in King’s honor.
“He was a great man, a great leader, a leader who led in times of such trial and had the ability to have a vision for things that others not only didn’t have a vision for but did not think possible,” Healey said.
Many people of color said King paved the way for them to enter the political sphere.
Among those, was Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who said King “carried himself incredibly humbly, respectfully [and] proud.”
“[T]o see someone like him who was proud of who he was, who was strong in who he was, was inspiring,” Arroyo said.
Altogether, King’s impact on the city of Boston and beyond is one that will not soon be forgotten.
“He lived for 94 years,” Williams said. “I would say his legacy will live longer than that.”
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