Distinguished activist, practitioner, politician, and planning scholar Mel King will be honored with the prestigious Edward J. Blakely Award presented live by the Planners of Color Interest Group (POCIG) at the Blakely Award reception on Friday, November 2 (7:30-9:00 PM/ET), as part of the 53rd Annual ACSP Conference, from the Hilton Netherlands Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Established last year in honor of Edward J. Blakely for his extraordinary service as both scholar and practitioner, following the example of his parents and other family members who lived and worked for social justice in communities of color especially during the years of legally-enforced racial segregation, the Edward J. Blakely award is presented to a worthy honoree for supporting the cause of social justice in urban planning or development for communities of color. Mel King is the first recipient of the award.
King’s commitment to social justice in urban planning and development for communities of color continues to reverberate throughout our society and world. He established the urban scholars program, bringing community activists into MIT for periods of study while continuing to mentor and challenge university students to examine a range of issues related to educational opportunity, equity and excellence. His book Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development is a classic in the field of community development. As a Massachusetts State Representative and through his bids for mayor of the City of Boston, King offered public policy grounded in an urban reform agenda that sought to expand opportunities for the city and state’s poorest individuals as well as innovations in constituent services. He established the first “Rainbow Coalition” that influenced the political arena both locally and nationally. Notwithstanding, these domestic activities, King’s commitment to social justice and racial equity extended internationally through his involvement in the divestment campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. A tireless warrior, he is currently founder and director of the South End Technology Center, and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.
In addition, Verónica R. Soto, Executive Director of the El Paso Downtown Management District, will receive an honorable mention for her social justice work in urban planning and development. She has promoted equitable development for revitalizing communities out of distress; mentored many women of color in the planning profession; and advanced diversity within APA and AICP in New Mexico, Texas, and at the national level.
Established in 2007 as an interest group within ACSP, the mission of POCIG is to advance the interests and concerns of people and communities of color within planning academia and the profession. For more information about POCIG or the Edward J. Blakely Award, please visit www.acsp.org/aboutpocig.