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Gail Harris interviews Mel King

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Summary
Gail Harris interviews Mel King (candidate for mayor). King discusses his reasons for running for mayor and talks about the issues he considers most important to the city's residents. King answers questions about how he would deal with the city's leaders, the city's power brokers and "the Vault." King talks about the importance of education and training. Harris and King discuss the changes in King's image and manner of dress. King notes the diversity within the African American community; he dismisses the idea of any one candidate receiving 100% of the vote in the African American community. King gives his opinion of Mel Miller (publisher of the The Bay State Banner), who is opposed to King's candidacy. King says that there is no Boston neighborhood in which he feels uncomfortable. King and Harris discuss how to keep racial issues out of the campaign; Harris and King discuss his boycott of an earlier campaign debate because it excluded some candidates. King talks about his goals for the city as mayor. After the interview, King tells Harris about his book, Chain of Change. King talks about his hobbies and about the importance of organizing and empowering people. King gives his opinion of Kevin White (Mayor, City of Boston).
Topics
African American politicians, Political campaigns, Municipal government, Urban policy, Civil rights, Segregation
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0:59:57: Visual: Gail Harris interviews Mel King (candidate for mayor). Harris asks King why he is running for mayor. King says that he has lived his whole life in Boston; that he understands the importance of public service; that it is important for the city to take care of its neediest citizens. King says that affordable housing, employment, health care, and education are important issues to many in the city. King says that some residents of Boston are living in unacceptable conditions; that families are living in overcrowded apartments; that some residents are isolated from the mainstream; that homelessness is a problem in the city. Harris asks King how he would deal with the city's leaders and power brokers and "The Vault." King says that he has worked with a cross-section of people in the city over the course of his career; that he worked with the Chamber of Commerce and the Chandler School to develop a training and placement program for women. King says that people are resources; that training can provide skilled workers for big corporations. King says that training is important; that school failure leads to street crime and juvenile delinquency; that lack of education and unemployment are at the root of most social problems.

1:06:20: V: Harris comments that King has changed his look; that he no longer wears a dashiki. King says that he has not changed his position on the issues; that his clothing is not relevant to his ideas. Harris asks if it is possible to get 100% of the vote in the African American community. She notes that the African American community is very diverse. King agrees that the African American community is very diverse. He says that he resents those who say that he needs to get 100% of the African American vote; that no white candidate is assumed to need 100% of the white vote. King says that a racism leads voters to look at the color of his skin instead of his record and his position on the issues. Harris asks what King thinks of Mel Miller (publisher of the The Bay State Banner), who says that the African American community should offer their support to a strong candidate who can support them after becoming mayor. King says that no one pays a lot of attention to Miller; that Miller is opposed to the ERA. King says that African Americans need to fight for what they want and support one another; that Miller has a negative view of white people; that Miller's influence is destructive to the African American community. Harris asks King if there are any parts of the city in which he feels uncomfortable. King says that there is no part of the city in which he is uncomfortable; that he wants to bring the city together; that he wants to reach out to people who disagree with him on the issues. King says that people must be brought together around common issues like employment and improvements to the schools and the city. Harris asks how King would prevent racial issues from entering the campaign, especially if he found himself in a runoff with David Finnegan (candidate for mayor) or Ray Flynn (candidate for mayor). King says that his previous campaigns for public office have always focused on issues; that the diversity of his campaign workers has earned his campaign the nickname of "the rainbow campaign."

1:14:21: V: Harris asks King if he regrets boycotting an earlier campaign debate because two other candidates were not invited to participate. King says that he has no regrets; that candidates must practice the "politics of inclusion." King notes that it is hypocritical for a candidate to promote equal access for all, and then to take part in a public forum which excludes the voices of some. Harris asks him about what he could accomplish as mayor. King says that he could affect real change in the city; that he would concentrate on reducing crime and fighting drugs; that he would appoint a new police commissioner to work with the community and to root out problems in the police force. King says that Joseph Jordan (Police Commissioner, City of Boston) learned about the problems on Sonoma Street by watching television; that the city needs a commissioner who can mobilize the force to fight crime; that Jordan allowed the mayor to use the police force as a political tool in the debates on Proposition 2 1/2 and the Tregor Bill. King says that he would investigate corruption through an audit of the city's programs; that the government needs to make sure that good services are being provided. King notes that the city government must spend the citizen's tax dollars wisely. King says that new resources must be spent for improvements at Boston City Hospital; that some employees at the hospital qualify for public assistance because their salaries are so low. Harris asks King if he would campaign for mayor even if he knew there was no chance of victory. King says that he has many forums through which to promote his ideas; that he has published a book recently. King says that he would not run if he didn't think he could win; that he would not want to waste his own time and valuable time and money of others; that he thinks he can win and effect real change in the city.

1:20:55: V: Harris thanks King and closes the interview. The crew takes cutaway shots of Harris and King. King tells Harris about his book, Chain of Change. King talks about his hobbies. King talks about the importance of organizing and empowering people. He talks about organizing tenants through the Symphony Tenants Organizing Project. Harris tells King about her impressions of Boston politics. She mentions Kevin White (Mayor of Boston) and Clarence Jones (former Deputy Mayor of Boston). King says that he did not support White in 1975 or 1979; that White has taken the African American vote for granted; that White has not delivered services to the African American community.