King Boston announces Imari Paris Jeffries to join as Executive Director as project moves into new phase

Marie St. Fleur to step down June 30 in planned transition, as development of memorial and King Center for Economic Justice moves forward

June 11, 2020

BostonKing Boston today announced that longtime nonprofit executive and community leader Imari K. Paris Jeffries is joining the organization as Executive Director, effective June 30. Paris Jeffries will succeed Marie St. Fleur, who has guided King Boston through much of the complicated process of siting and approving the planned memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King on the Boston Common, and laid the groundwork for the establishment of the King Center for Economic Justice at the Roxbury branch of the Boston Public Library.

“It has been an exciting, and yes, challenging time continuing the momentum of the King Boston initiative over the past two years,” said St. Fleur, “But as I step down, we are ever closer to the creation of a powerful, multi-faceted tribute to the Kings which both recognizes their important work in Boston and provides the opportunity to build upon that legacy.  I want to acknowledge and thank all the partners who continue to support this work.”

Paris Jeffries brings a wealth of experience from the nonprofit management, community activism, education reform, and social justice sectors, and has served in executive roles at Parenting Journey, Jumpstart, Boston Rising, and Friends of The Children. He serves as a Trustee of the UMass System, as well as on the boards of USES, Providers Council, and Governor Baker’s Black Advisory Commission. He is a three-time graduate of UMass Boston and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. through UMass Boston’s Higher Education Program.

“In 1965, Dr. King called on Boston to be a testing ground for the ideal of freedom. It’s taken unacceptably long, but we stand in a moment that provides the opportunity to bring progress out of tragedy, and the King Center for Economic Justice and the Embrace memorial to the Kings can and should provide a spark and home for that work,” said Paris Jeffries. “Marie has been a big sister, friend, mentor, and leader for many of us and I look forward to continuing the work and moving this project from vision to action both on the Common and in Roxbury, as we work to eliminate the social and economic injustices that have once again been made so visible in the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd.”

“The events of the past few months, and especially the past two weeks, have again put a sharp focus on issues of equity and justice that the Kings raised more than 50 years ago,” said Paul English, Co-chair and Founder of King Boston. “The King Center and the memorial are being designed to spark dialogue and action, and I am thankful to Marie St. Fleur for her work and excited to partner with Imari, a military veteran and long-time champion of equity, to continue the effort.”

Paris Jeffries already has begun working with English and the other King Boston co-chairs, Rev. Jeffrey Brown and Rev. Liz Walker, to move plans for the memorial and the King Center for Economic Justice forward. Site work on the Boston Common for the memorial is expected to begin this summer, and plans for the King Center for Economic Justice are expected to move forward in concert with the opening of the renovated Roxbury branch of the Boston Public Library later this year.


King Boston is a privately funded effort working closely with the City of Boston and the Boston Foundation to create a new memorial and programs honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King and their time and work together in Boston. King Boston held fourteen community meetings to solicit input from our neighbors. King Boston is now working on the following initiatives:

  • A world-class memorial on the Boston Common, the location of marches and speeches for hundreds of years in our city. 
  • The creation of a new "King Center for Economic Justice" at the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, where we will work to reduce economic disparities across our city. The King Center will engage residents with data about the systemic issues they face and solicit their input to shape effective strategies. The Center will convene leaders of Boston nonprofits, philanthropy and government agencies working on issues of economic justice to collaborate with residents to review policies, programs, and practices that seek to reduce economic disparities.
  • A new documentary about the Kings, focused on their lives and work together in Boston.

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