Charlie Baker

Nonprofit King Boston Gifts $1M to Roxbury Church Honoring MLK

The $1 million gift comes 70 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked and preached at the historic Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury

Boston Mayor Kim Janey and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker spoke of the significant impact the Twelfth Baptist Church has made in the Roxbury community Monday as King Boston made a $1 million donation.

"This gift is important because it will help continue that work around food insecurity, the work that the Black church has always done. A place where folks have organized, a place where people have sought refuge from the storm," Janey said. "The storm, still with us as we know as COVID cases continue throughout our city and throughout our country and throughout the world, but we have more work to do."

King Boston, a nonprofit with a mission of honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King while addressing economic and racial inequities, is making the donation to help amplify the church’s work in the community.

"This initiative, symbolically important, but substantively so much more, has the potential to not only change the conversation but change the condition of the issues associated with equity, race and justice here in the Commonwealth" Baker said.

"King Boston has given me a sense of hope about the possibility that this enterprise can bring to the whole notion of service here in the city and across the Commonwealth," Baker said. "There's much to be done, but there's a team on the field here that's willing to step up, hold hands and make it happen."

It was September of 1951 when Dr. King began his time in Boston -- working and preaching at the historic Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. The donation is part of the campaign for the Embrace Memorial on the Boston Common, in tribute to the legacy of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

"We're so excited about receiving this gift. We're thankful for all that has happened and all that is done, we're thankful to King Boston and we believe that this allows us to continue the great work of ministry that we've been doing," Rev. Willie Bodrick II, senior pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church said. "We've been living in the midst of a global pandemic and we've tried to meet this moment."

The gift will benefit the work of the Twelfth Baptist Church, including supporting its food insecurity program, which helps more than 200 families, its former incarcerated program, the church's social ministries and more.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George and King Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries, among others.

"Twelfth Baptist is one of the anchor institutions of Roxbury and so to ensure that we're able to firm up an historic institution -- that is so important to the community," Paris Jeffries said. "This million dollars is going to benefit Twelfth Baptist in a way that generations to come will be able to benefit and experience."

King Boston will also announce the 1965 Freedom Plaza Nomination Campaign and Selection Committee, a group of activists, educators, local artists, and cultural leaders who will review and finalize the selection of the 1965 Freedom Plaza honorees, alongside co-chairs Tito Jackson and L’Merchie Frazier.

Individuals from the community will be able to submit prospective names for the 1965 Freedom Plaza online at starting Monday. In addition, voting stations will be set up at a number of Boston Public Library branches and at several houses of worship around the city, allowing equitable community engagement for those that may not have access to Wi-Fi and technology.

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