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"The time is always right to do right." --Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is a new movement in Boston to bring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King back into discussions of what we want for our society today. Fifty years after his work, his words ring true more than ever.
MLK Boston is a new non-profit working closely with the City of Boston to bring a world-class permanent installation commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s and Coretta Scott King’s legacy to Boston, and to sponsor local events and discussions to bring their words to life. With all that is going on in our nation today, we need the wisdom of the Kings right now. It is time again to revisit the work of Coretta Scott King and read Dr. King’s speeches and writings about racial equality, immigrant rights, war, economic fairness, and many other issues about social justice.
The new memorial will be designed to inspire visitors with the Kings’ words, and will challenge visitors to think about what they would be speaking about today, and what are the responsibilities of each of us to continue their work. This will be an "open source" project with dozens of opportunities for people to get involved.
Why Now? A King memorial in Boston seems overdue given the issues and social justice Dr. King articulated and sought to achieve within the framework of the American civil rights movement. Today, the issues we confront as a nation -- including enduring economic inequalities, labor rights, racial discrimination and injustice, provocations of white nationalists, issues of just war and fragile peace, and questions of immigration and nativism -- make Dr. King’s words and deeds as urgent and relevant as they were in the past. Coretta Scott King’s words and activism have also retained their relevance in contemporary conversations on peace and poverty and underscore the continued struggle to recognize the voices and work of women in civil rights and human rights struggles.
The Kings’ example remains indispensable for reflecting upon the challenges of citizenship, activism, and service that current and future generations face in pursuit of a just society. At a moment when public memorials are questioned, it is time to elevate the landscape of public memory with a monument to this great family of leaders and share an under acknowledged part of Boston’s story.
Why Boston? Dr. King and Coretta Scott King spent formative and influential years in Boston, where they met as students. During this time, King received a PhD from Boston University in systematic theology, deepening his ideas on religion and politics, while serving as assistant pastor at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. A life-long musician, Coretta Scott received a degree in music education in voice and violin from the New England Conservatory of Music, later incorporating song and poetry into her important civil rights work. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1971 in recognition of her accomplishments. Dr. King maintained a significant relationship with the City of Boston, receiving critical support from local religious and political leaders like James Reeb, the Unitarian Universalist minister who was murdered during the voting rights demonstrations in Selma; depositing archival material for future research at Boston University; and in 1965 testifying before the Massachusetts Legislature and holding a march from the South End to the Boston Common’s Parkman Bandstand where he spoke on civil rights. Boston proves to be an essential part of the story in the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. (See map.)
The MLK Boston project was kicked off on September 20, 2017. (See Boston Globe story.)