Mel King and Chinatown

A Relationship of Mutual Support

Mel King was a close partner with the Chinese Progressive Association(CPPA), and a staunch supporter of their efforts to secure better working conditions, social services, and community resources for the Chinese community in Boston. King was a strong advocate for several causes led by the CPPA, including the P&L garment workers protests and the building of a Chinese Progressive Association Workers Center. He continually showed his support through participating in demonstrations, delivering speeches, writing letters of support, and through being a strong and visible presence at community celebrations and events.  When Mel King campaigned to be Boston’s mayor in 1983, the Chinese Progressive Association endorsed his candidacy, hosted several events and rallies in support of his campaign, and became an integral part of King’s “Rainbow Coalition”.

The photos and documents below offer a glimpse into the decades-long partnership between Mel King and the Chinese Progressive Association.

Mel King and Suzanne Lee, at a P&L celebration at the Quincy School, 1986

1983 Mayoral Campaign

Front page of Sampan Vol XII no.1 October/November 1983

Excerpt from a Sampan profile on Mel King, during his mayoral campaign in 1983.

In the Asian community, a group was formed to endorse King. However, he expressed that there appeared to be an imbalance in political activism in the Asian community as compared to other neighborhoods.
“I also think the number of people who are now involved are much broader than before and that is very, very positive,” he added.
He pointed out that the recent agreement between Tufts University/ New England Medical Center and Chinatown illustrated that the Chinese people can come together on common beliefs. He referred to it as an “event of self-definition” for the community.
“Tufts or organizations like that would not think that they would be able to do what they want to do in Chinatown,” King said.
He said he has a very positive impression of the people in the Chinese community, but at the same time he recognized that there are a lot of things in the community in need of improvement. He cited housing, city services, parking, and recreational space.

L&P Garment Workers Victory, 1986-1987

Building the Workers Center, 1987

Community Events