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Roots of the Rainbow Exhibit Collection, 1943-1988


5 document cases, 27 exhibit boards, time-line and 3 posters


The "Roots of the Rainbow" Exhibit Collection was donated to the University of Massachusetts/Boston Archives by Marie Kennedy in early 1993.


The "Roots of the Rainbow" Exhibition was mounted in 1988 in celebration of local politician Mel King's sixtieth birthday. On twenty-seven 40" x 30" poster boards, the exhibit documents King's career and Boston's Rainbow Coalition. The exhibition was coordinated and designed by Marie Kennedy, professor in the College of Public and Community Service of UMass Boston, with the assistance of more than sixty people from numerous community organizations. Susan Stuebling and Marilyn Wu assisted with the production of the exhibition. The Rainbow Coalition grew out of King's unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1983. The exhibit explains that "the work of the Rainbow has focused on changing the political structures to become truly representative and reflective of the hopes and aspirations of all citizens." The Rainbow worked toward "political empowerment through voter education, voter registration, and support and development of new progressive political and community leadership."

Scope and Content

The collection includes the exhibition display boards as well as photographs, flyers, clippings, political buttons, two bumper stickers, a banner ("Welcome Harold Washington"), newsletters and other papers the exhibitors used to prepare the exhibit. The photographs are of Mel King, Boston residents, and such national figures as Jesse Jackson. Many were taken by prominent photographers such as Ellen Shub (note: copyright for most of the photographs is owned by the photographer). There are also some minutes, reports and other material from groups opposing redevelopment in the South End in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as the Community Assembly for a Unified South End (CAUSE), and the People's Elected Urban Renewal Committee.

In addition to documenting several of King's political campaigns, his term as a State Representative, his community work, and Boston's Rainbow Coalition, this exhibition and the accompanying papers provide information about political activities in Boston, including the South End, urban gardens, divestment from South Africa, among others.

Titles of Exhibit Boards:

  1. The New York Streets : a Rainbow Community
  2. More New York Streets
  3. Youth and Schools in the 50s and 60s
  4. A Glimpse of Mel, Family, and Friends
  5. The Fight for Community Control in the South End
  6. Community Control in Boston : South End
  7. Twenty Years of Tent City
  8. Contributing to Community Development
  9. Anatomy of a Campaign
  10. A Rainbow Advocate in the State House
  11. Solidarity Around the World
  12. Solidarity with South Africa
  13. Solidarity with Cuba, Blocking the Blockade
  14. Against Terrorism in the Cuban Community
  15. Roxbury Community College
  16. Mel King for Mayor, '79
  17. Mel King for Mayor, '79
  18. Campaign for District Representative
  19. People Make the Rainbow : '83 Mayoral Campaign
  20. '83 Mayoral Campaign for the Rainbow
  21. Building the Rainbow : the '83 campaign
  22. One United Struggle
  23. Boston's Rainbow Coalition
  24. Rainbow of Workers, Local 8751
  25. Advocacy and Support in a Rainbow of Struggle
  26. Mel King, Congress
  27. Keep Hope Alive : Jesse Jackson '88

And Timeline of life of Mel King and Boston/National historical events