MLK’s Connections to Boston Getting Major Recognition

Artist rendering of Boston MLK memorial.

Elizabeth Walker still remembers hearing Martin Luther King Jr. speak. 

“It was electric,” Walker said. “Martin Luther King was a hero.”

Walker, the first black woman to co-anchor a newscast in Boston and current pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church, is a leader in Boston. Dr. King inspired her to pursue journalism and become Co-Chair of King Boston.

King Boston is a privately funded non-profit organization working on projects that would incorporate Martin Luther King and his wife’s, Coretta Scott King’s legacy into the heart of Boston. It seeks to address issues such as enduring economic inequalities, racial discrimination, and injustice. It was founded by Paul English, a Boston-based businessman, on Sept. 20, 2017.

The Kings met and fell in love in Boston when they were students – he studied at Boston University and she at the New England Conservatory.

On Oct. 6, 2018, King Boston hosted its King Legacy Night fundraiser at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It raised more than $500,000 in private donations. The money will be put toward four initiatives.

The first is a new monument in Boston Common. The design is called ‘The Embrace.’ It is based on a picture of King hugging his wife when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. It will cost about $4 million and take about two years to build. 

Boston-based filmmaker Roberto Mighty is producing and directing a 30-minute documentary about the Kings and their life in Boston. Mighty plans to release it the same time the monument is finished.

King Boston plans to build the “King Center for Economic Justice,” which seeks to address economic disparities in Boston. It will include job training and information on how and where to get jobs in the Boston area, and act as a community resource center in Dudley Library. 

King Boston is also hoping to secure a $1 million endowment with the Twelfth Baptist Church, where King preached while he lived in Boston. It will use the money for related programming, especially economic development. They plan to look at King’s last speeches, often focused on poverty, and layer that over what is happening now.

After its four initiatives are complete, King Boston hopes to sustain the monument and Center for Economic Justice for a long time to come.

Walker says that King Boston “is one of the most exciting things [she’s] ever done.”

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