King Mel is a long-time Boston community activist and civil rights leader who served as State Representative and ran for Mayor of Boston in 1982.

Early in his career, he was a vocal organizer of a 1968 protest in which neighborhood activists erected a tent city in a parking lot where the Boston Redevelopment Authority planned to build a garage. For three days, countless people funneled through the festive shantytown for free food, free music and radical political discussion. When a housing development, not a garage, was built on the site it was named “Tent City” in honor of the activists’ encampment.

Speaking at a small gathering at encuentro5 (a space in Chinatown for community and progressive groups) a week before Occupy Boston’s eviction from Dewey Square, Mel King praised Occupy Boston and drew parallel’s between it and the 1968 Tent City he helped create.

King told the Boston occupiers, “You have the right to alter and change. You have that right. You are deserving, and no change comes to any individual or group until they assert themselves that they are deserving…Your message is getting into people’s minds and you’re saying ‘we are deserving.’” Waving in his hand the second issue of “The Boston Occupier” (the local counterpart to the “Occupy Wall Street Journal”) King added, “You have the right to revolution.”

Full 8 minute video of Mel King’s speech to Occupy Boston:

About The Author

Contributing editor John Stephen Dwyer is in love with his native Boston but has also done work in Amsterdam, London, New York, Paris and other cool cities. In recent months he's photographed notables including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and Rosalynn Carter.

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