By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

In 1983, The Boston Phoenix endorsed Mel King in his historic run for mayor

Mel King was a giant. I remember his 1983 Boston mayoral campaign against Ray Flynn as though it were yesterday. Flynn defeated King. But King, the first Black candidate ever to make a serious bid for the office, remained a force until his death this week at the age of 94. GBH News has the story.

On the eve of the 1983 election, The Boston Phoenix endorsed King. You can read the entire piece here courtesy of the Phoenix archives at Northeastern University.

And here is how it closes:

On matters of human decency, of character, or of integrity, who could choose between Ray Flynn and Mel King? It is only in the consideration of other qualities — the strength of commitment over time, the wisdom that comes with experience, the consistency of values — that the dramatic differences between the candidates emerge. Given these differences, we’d anticipate the inauguration of Ray Flynn as Boston’s next mayor with hope. But we’d anticipate the inauguration of Mel King with enthusiasm.

Boston has still not elected its first Black mayor. The city now has its first person of color as mayor, Michelle Wu, who’s Asian American. But it is disheartening to contemplate that in a place with such a lamentably racist past, not a single African American has ever held the top elected position. Mel King came close — and inspired a generation of Bostonians.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Dan,

    Much appreciation for your commentary on Mel King and for sharing the Boston Phoenix endorsement.

    I knew Mel a bit since the late ‘70s and what impressed me most about this extraordinary man was his unwavering commitment and belief that ordinary people could improve their circumstances by acting collectively, with determination, compassion, humility, and love. Mel believed in “we” not “I”. For me, that was a significant difference between him and Flynn (and nearly every other candidate for public office).


    Sent from my iPhone


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