MLK Boston

“The time is always right to do right.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Between 1980 and 2000, Boston native Paul English would have watched Liz Walker delivering the news on WBZ-TV; now the two of them are making news together as co-chairs of MLK Boston, a nonprofit housed at the Boston Foundation. MLK Boston is dedicated to creating a major Boston memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King to honor and perpetuate their work and ideals in the city where they met. 

“I was educated here and it is one of the cities which I call home,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. at a rally on Boston Common in 1965, calling on Boston to be “a testing ground for the ideal of freedom.”

English, founder of travel companies Kayak and Lola as well as other ventures, and Reverend Walker, now senior pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, were introduced by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. All three understood how fitting a King memorial would be for Boston, and in fact, how essential.

Martin Luther King Jr. earned his Ph.D. from Boston University and while here he preached at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. At that time Coretta Scott was a student at the New England Conservatory, and attended Twelfth Baptist. King considered Boston a formative influence and eventually returned to lead marches and speak publicly on the Boston Common. 

Honoring the Kings with a world-class, permanent installation in Boston makes sense historically. It also makes sense for Boston’s future as it continues to wrestle with the issue of race, most recently reflected in the Boston Globe Spotlight series. “MLK Boston is holding a series of community conversations all over the city and connecting on the issues that Martin Luther King cared about,” says Rev. Walker, explaining that the effort is about far more than a physical memorial. “This is about getting people engaged.” English jump-started the MLK Boston Fund with a donation of $1 million and the goal of raising $5 million to commission and build the memorial, endow its maintenance and to seed-fund events and discussions related to the memorial.


The memorial’s artistic development is well underway. A call to artists in December left the seven-member selection committee with quite a challenge: more than 125 entries. “We are quite excited about the impressive pool of artists we have,” says MLK Boston Executive Director Robin Powell Mandjes, doubly connected as an arts management professional whose grandmother marched with King in the South. “It includes new voices and artists of note, both locally and nationally.” Five finalists will have the opportunity to further develop and present their ideas and, after extensive evaluation, including public input, the winning submission will be announced in November 2018.

The Boston Foundation manages and invests the assets of the King Boston Fund, provides a home for the King Boston office and provides an online platform for donations of all sizes. For more about how to support the Fund at any level and participate in future meetings, visit