The Boston Women’s Fund held its second Men Take A Stand event, recognizing men who promote peace, equality and the leadership of women and girls. This year BWF honored local activist, statesman, MIT adjunct professor and community organizer Mel King. BWF granted him the “Social Justice in Action” award for his many years of dedication to community organizing, youth development, nonviolence and for Taking A Stand in supporting the leadership of women and girls.
For over 55 years, Mel King, the community activist and organizer, worked determinedly for social justice across race, class, gender and age in Boston. After being a State Representative for nearly 10 years, King was the first black mayoral candidate for the city of Boston in 1983. King founded the Community Fellows program at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology where he taught for 25 years and has since established the South End Technology Center to provide youth with access to technology.
The 150 people at the event included members of the BWF family, political figures, and fans and family of Mel King. Political figures included Governor Deval Patrick, who participated and shared in this memorable evening, State Representative Russell Holmes, District 2 City Council candidate Suzanne Lee, and District 7 City Council candidate, Tito Jackson.
Guests enjoyed the many, varied performances and the food provided by Seasoned with Soul caterer Rhonda Persip. Veronique-Anne Epiter, international performer and long-time friend of the Kings, sang “I want you to sing my song,” an original piece written and composed by Mel King. King’s inspiration for the song came from growing up in diverse South End neighborhood where he learned “a lot about getting along and understanding different people’s cultures.” Two young men from Project Hip-Hop performed before speeches began. A BWF grantee organization, Project Hip-Hop is a youth-led organization engaging and developing young people as activists and organizers. It was very meaningful to have young men thank Mel King for his work and to participate in Men Take A Stand.
Governor Deval Patrick spoke about the importance of Mel King’s activism and achievements. He was grateful to King for being a “first” and for running for Mayor, which paved the way for Patrick’s successful election. Patrick’s statement that “Mel King is a living example of how to be and what to do” resonated with the audience.
Josefina Vazquez, BWF executive director, was joined by Governor Patrick in presenting the “Social Justice in Action” award to Mel King for his many years of dedication to community organizing and youth development, and for Taking A Stand in supporting the leadership of women and girls. Josefina shared with the audience the time when she was an adolescent and in meeting Mel King, he jokingly shared how he admired her spunk. She in turn reminded the Governor that he should be accepting of all immigrants in the State of Massachusetts and to prevent any racial profiling, by not signing onto the federal project of “safe communities.”
In his acceptance speech, Mel King talked about the need to “stand up for women and immigrants,” especially in today’s political environment. He believes that there is “no such thing as an illegal person on this planet.” He explained that while social media is useful, “yea, tweet, tweet, tweet,” nothing is more significant than “feet in the
street.” King stressed how much there
still needs to be done, but encouraged the audience that change was possible through collaboration and hard work.
The evening ended with a performance by ENVY, a female step team from Tufts University. The young women expressed their appreciation for Mel King through their elegant movement, rhythmic beats, and powerful performance.
Overall, the second Men Take A Stand event was successful thanks to the performers, master of ceremonies, guests and honoree. The event reminded everyone of the importance of Taking A Stand to end violence against women, to support women and girls in leadership, and to create a better world.
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