From the Phoenix archives: a King for mayor

The Boston Phoenix has reached back into its archives for this June 1979 profile of Mel King when he was running for mayor.

Some of the highlights:

Still later, as a fledgling member of the Massachusetts House, King attracted more attention for his refusal to conform to that body's long-standing coat-and-tie dress code. He eventually won the right to wear his dashiki on the floor, but not before he had words with his colleagues, including then-House Speaker David Bartley. Recalled King, "We came in the first day wearing a jumpsuit, and Bartley came over and raised the question about my dress. I asked him if it was a matter of law, and he said no, it was custom. I said, well, so is racism and discrimination." End of round one.

Mel King's first day must have been an unnerving experience for Beacon Hill. He had still another encounter when he drove into the parking lot outside the State House that day, according to one of his South End constituents. "The way I heard the story," said Stephen Kinzer, a long-time political activist (and former Phoenix columnist), "this burly cop started chasing him and telling him the lot was reserved for reps. So Mel got up out of the car, extending himself to his full 6-feet-5, stuck out his hand and said, 'Representative Mel King of Boston, pleased to meet you.'"

A strategist to mayoral candidate Sam Yoon invoked King's name during a campaign training session this weekend in Chinatown.