The Roxbury Community College (RCC) Community mourns the passing of Melvin H. King, educator, youth worker, social activist, community organizer and developer, elected politician, and author. One of RCC’s celebrated Pioneers, Mr. King’s tireless advocacy for Boston residents shaped the city we know today; including the establishment and growth of RCC.
King was elected representative of the 9th Suffolk District and served from 1973–1982, advocating for RCC and its students, and supporting legislation and programs focused on affordable housing and community development.
In 1983, King ran for mayor of Boston, and became the first Black candidate to enter the general election. After the historic campaign, he established the Rainbow Coalition Party, which was a model for the one created by Rev. Jesse Jackson. Roxbury Community College and the Boston of today would not exist without the many contributions of Melvin H. King.
“I first met Mel King when he was running for Mayor and I was a campaign volunteer,” said RCC Interim President Jackie-Jenkins Scott. “I was moved then, and now, by the integrity of this public servant. Mel taught us all what it truly means to be a Servant Leader. I will always be grateful that I had the privilege to know this amazing human being who impacted so many organizations, including Roxbury Community College. Mel’s legacy will live on in our work as we strive to make this a better world for us all.”
In 2005, Mr. King generously donated materials from his 1983 mayoral campaign to the RCC Library. The collection comprises over 4,000 documents and items relating to Mel King’s mayoral campaign of 1983, and to a lesser extent, his US Congress Campaign of 1986. Included from the mayoral run are campaign schedules, correspondence, newspaper clippings, event programs, campaign buttons, posters, and a T-shirt. The RCC Library is currently digitizing this important collection.
In February 2023, Mr. King and his wife, Joyce King, were honored as RCC Pioneers. Pioneers were selected based on leadership; community influence and impact; innovation and achievement; commitment to RCC’s values; academic contributions; and excellence in student support. Mr. King’s lifelong commitment to creating community programs and institutions for low-income and BIPOC Boston residents and 50+ years of support for RCC (beginning before RCC was established) made him an obvious selection during the review process.
Today and always, Roxbury Community College honors the contributions and legacy of Mr. Melvin H. King. The College will continue to celebrate the many contributions of Mr. King and the King family and continue his legacy by providing quality, affordable education to all.