Funeral Held for Mel King, ‘Gentle Giant' and Boston Civil Rights Pioneer

The funeral was officiated by Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, with members of the family and community giving eulogies

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Family and friends of trailblazing Boston civil rights activist Mel King gathered in Boston's South End for his funeral on Tuesday, which was declared a citywide day of remembrance.

The compassionate community leader and beloved former state representative died last month at 94. The funeral at Union United Methodist Church was officiated by Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, with members of the family and community giving eulogies and a host of officials in attendance.



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"He was to Boston what Martin Luther King Jr. was to the entire country," Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, told NBC10 Boston.

"Mel was a gentle giant, always patient, always kind," former Boston Mayor Kim Janey said Tuesday.

King, who in 1983 became the first Black person to reach a general election in a Boston mayoral race, inspired a generation of politicians in the city. He's been remembered through a series of events in the city, including a wreath-laying at City Hall on Monday, where Mayor Michelle Wu made the declaration of a day of remembrance, and a wake later in the day.

"We knew that we would not be here without Mel King," Wu said at the funeral.

King’s accomplishments are numerous, including as a poet and artist. He was recalled as always fighting for the poor and disadvantaged either as an activist, a state representative or candidate for mayor in the historic 1983 election.

Mel King’s son opens up about his father’s life as a community leaders ad civil rights activist.

To his family, he was a husband, father and grandfather.

"If it was up to me, I'd probably keep him to myself, but one of the grandest lessons his life has taught me is that we are not possession of anyone and to love is let our loved ones live their purpose unapologetically," granddaughter Xaivier Ringer said.

On Monday, hundreds had gathered in long lines wrapped around the Union United Methodist Church for King’s public viewing.

“I saw people of every race, every ethnicity, every religion in that line back there and it’s beautiful,” said Ben Flucas, who worked with King at the State House.

PHOTOS: Boston Civil Rights Icon Mel King Through the Years

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