Special to the Gazette
Today, Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper, School Leader Cindie Nelson, and Ms. Joyce King celebrated the renaming of the McKinley Schools to the Melvin H. King South End Academy in honor of the late Melvin H. King.
“Mel King’s visionary leadership transformed Boston’s communities and empowered our residents to reimagine what’s possible. His legacy will continue to shine as an inspiration for generations to come,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m thrilled to celebrate him with this renaming to honor his legacy and inspire future generations of BPS students and families to make an impact in their communities.”
King is a Boston Public Schools alum who spent his life representing and advocating for families in the City. He is a visionary leader who maintained a focus on equity to ensure all of Boston’s students have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. His work as a teacher, community activist, and local leader over the decades has inspired many residents to become leaders in their communities and to continue to advocate to make Boston a city for everyone.
He passed on March 28, 2023 at the age of 94. The City of Boston honored him earlier this month with services including a wreath laying at Boston City Hall, a day of remembrance, and a funeral in the South End.
The school underwent an extensive naming process that engaged many stakeholders in the McKinley community. The process included surveys, various public meetings with different constituent groups, and using the Racial Equity Planning Tool (REPT) as a guide to uncover any weak points or gaps that may have impacted their work throughout the process. The BPS Racial Equity Planning Tool lays out a clear six-step process to operationalize our commitment to ensure each decision we make is aimed at closing opportunity gaps and advancing racial equity.
“Modeled by Mel King, the power of education is exemplified across our city,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. “Learning begins in homes, classrooms, and schools, but it does not end there. Mel demonstrated how education can be used to mobilize and empower community members to bring about positive transformation in our village for a lifetime, directly impacting our young people. We see these efforts from our families, educators, school leaders, and district administrators. Let us continue Mel’s legacy by recommitting ourselves to this work, and by working together, every single day for the benefit of our students.”
During the event, students and school staff unveiled a banner with the school’s new name. The design was developed and created by the school art teacher, Ari Hauben. He worked with the school’s students who helped to design the crown. The heart that is displayed represents hugs. The image of Mr. King mirrors the mural on the side of the building. One of the seniors, Jaylen Rodriguez, read the poem “Struggle” written by Mel King during the ceremony to pay homage to his memory.
“It is an honor for this school to carry the name of Melvin H. King, a lifetime, the legendary leader of Boston,” said advocate and former Boston Public Schools teacher and administrator Edith Bazile. “Mel King’s leadership and service to generations of Bostonians have empowered them to advance educationally, socially, and economically through his mission of love and racial justice. I look forward to the ongoing transformative work occurring at Melvin H. King South End Academy so educational outcomes exemplify his unwavering commitment to college and vocational pathways of success and leadership for our young people.”
Earlier this year, as part of the Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools, the Mel King Academy community and the City of Boston launched a visioning study to redesign and renovate the Mel King Academy facilities. With new investments proposed in the City of Boston Capital Plan, this visioning study – in collaboration with Saam Architecture – will set the foundation to build new facilities for the Mel King Academy that are safe, healthy, and inspiring, where every student can thrive and succeed.
“Mel King, one of Boston’s champions for equity, inclusion, and progress, is a fitting example we’re striving to follow in this school community,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson. “We’re working hard, together, to imagine and produce a facility that will set a standard of excellence in the City for offering students of different abilities the support and setting they’ll need to thrive in their education.”
“We are honored to be able to have Melvin H. King represent the school and serve as a beacon that guides our work integrating high-quality instruction and specialized therapeutic supports,” said Melvin H. King South End Academy School Leader Cindie Neilson. “He did so much to advance education and opportunity in Boston, and future generations will continue to benefit from his life’s work.”
For more information about the Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools, please visit boston.gov/GND-BPS.