BOSTON (WWLP) – Civil rights icon Mel King has died at the age of 94 after serving 50 years of political activism to his community.

“For decades, Mel King taught us all how to serve, how to build, and how to love,” Mayor Michelle Wu wrote in a statement. “On behalf of the City of Boston, we send our deepest condolences to the King family and the many, many loved ones, mentees, and friends of Mel.”

His wife Joyce King told the Boston Globe her husband had been sick in recent months and spent a few days at Boston Medical Center but he said, three days ago he wanted to return home.

He was the first Black person to reach a general election in a race for the mayor of Boston. He lost to Ray Flynn in the 1983 mayoral election.

King represented Boston’s South End in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In addition to his activism, King was also an adjunct professor at MIT.

Senator Ed Markey commented, With the passing of Mel King, we have lost a trailblazer in all of its forms: civil rights leader, grassroots organizer, educator, writer, legislator. He was my friend and one of the smartest men I have ever known. Mel King was an inspiration to me and countless others who sought and fought for a more just future. He was the generational conscience for the entirety of the Commonwealth and the stalwart foundation on which all Boston’s modern progress has been won.”