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Mel King says he's a Yoonie

The endorsement of former state Sen. Bill Owens appears to have been just an appetizer.

Mayoral hopeful Sam Yoon's campaign served up on Monday the endorsement of community activist Mel King, the first African-American to win Boston's preliminary election for mayor.

“The issue for me is the children and the youth in the city,” King said in a statement. “Sam’s campaign is working to get all of us involved in making the city and the schools better. We have the opportunity for this year to be the year when Boston embraces the idea that all the city’s children are our children. It is Sam’s leadership and vision in this area that I believe we need.”

King, a former state representative, also took a shot at the incumbent, Mayor Thomas Menino, who set up a foundation after a recent seven-part series in the Boston Globe on the state of Boston Public Schools athletics: “The quality of our schools and the creation of a sound physical education program should be the first order of business. Sam will ensure resources for our schools – not in response to a media report - but because of Sam’s belief that it is our responsibility and that our children are deserving.”

King appeared undecided - but no less critical of Menino - earlier this year in an interview with Boston magazine.

Full release below:

Mel King Endorses Yoon for Mayor
Trailblazing Progressive Leader backs Mayoral Hopeful

BOSTON – Boston City Councilor-at-Large and mayoral candidate Sam Yoon received the endorsement today of former mayoral candidate, state representative, and community leader Mel King.

King, who energized Boston’s communities in his landmark run for mayor in 1983, said it was time to rally behind a new generation of leadership – one focused on making the city better for children and youth.

“We need to raise our expectations of what the city can do for young people,” said King. “The school-to-prison rate is too high and the graduation rate is too low. Sam offers leadership driven by people and communities, the kind of leadership that will engage residents in improving the health and education of all the city’s children.”

King said he was moved by Yoon’s focus to change the culture and climate of violence and improve public schools.

“The issue for me is the children and the youth in the city,” said King. “Sam’s campaign is working to get all of us involved in making the city and the schools better. We have the opportunity for this year to be the year when Boston embraces the idea that all the city’s children are our children. It is Sam’s leadership and vision in this area that I believe we need.”

“The quality of our schools and the creation of a sound physical education program should be the first order of business,” said King. “Sam will ensure resources for our schools – not in response to a media report - but because of Sam’s belief that it is our responsibility and that our children are deserving.”

King taught as an adjunct professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for twenty-five years. After his retirement in the spring of 1996, King founded the South End Technology Center, a collaborative between MIT and Tent City, which provides free and low-cost access and training in technology.

As King’s work over the years has been focused on children and youth, he sees Yoon’s campaign as a critical approach to those challenges.

Yoon said he was humbled by the endorsement from King.

“I am deeply honored to have Mel King’s support,” said Yoon. “Mel’s work, both in and out of government, has had a big influence on me and my decision to run.”

King served as a State Representative for the 9th Suffolk district from 1974-1982. In 1983, he made history as the first African-American candidate to win the preliminary election for mayor. His campaign’s support from minority groups became known as the “Rainbow Coalition,” a forerunner to Jesse Jackson’s coalition of the same name in his presidential runs. King went on to finish second in the general election to Ray Flynn in a race that generated national attention.

Arthur Sutton, a volunteer for Mel King’s 1983 campaign and longtime publisher of the Boston People’s Voice, has also been supporting Yoon this year.

“It’s quite a tribute to Sam Yoon that he can attract people like Mel King and also inspire a whole new generation of young voters in the city,” said Sutton. “The ability to bridge that gap will be a benefit to the city of Boston.”

King’s endorsement comes shortly after former state senator William Owens announced his support for Yoon.

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