Distinguished activist, practitioner, politician, scholar, and long-standing DUSP faculty member Mel King has been named as the inaugural wiinner of the Edward J. Blakely Award, presented by the Planners of Color Interest Group (POCIG) of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). The award will be presented live at the ACSP Fall Conference in Cincinnati on November 2.
Established last year in honor of Edward J. Blakely for his extraordinary service as both scholar and practitioner, following the example of his parents and other family members who lived and worked for social justice in communities of color especially during the years of legally-enforced racial segregation, the Edward J. Blakely award is presented to a worthy honoree for supporting the cause of social justice in urban planning or development for communities of color.
In their award statement, the group noted, "King’s commitment to social justice in urban planning and development for communities of color continues to reverberate throughout our society and world. He established the urban scholars program, bringing community activists into MIT for periods of study while continuing to mentor and challenge university students to examine a range of issues related to educational opportunity, equity and excellence. His book Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development is a classic in the field of community development."
As a Massachusetts State Representative and through his bids for mayor of the City of Boston, King offered public policy grounded in an urban reform agenda that sought to expand opportunities for the city and state’s poorest individuals as well as innovations in constituent services. He established the first “Rainbow Coalition” that influenced the political arena both locally and nationally. Notwithstanding, these domestic activities, King’s commitment to social justice and racial equity extended internationally through his involvement in the divestment campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. A tireless warrior, he is currently founder and director of the South End Technology Center, and continues to serve as a Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the Department. In 2009, a joint effort by the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) and Boston LISC established The Mel King Institute for Community Building , a nonprofit that supports affordable housing and community development.