A native of Boston, Melvin B. Miller has been actively involved in political and public affairs for more than 40 years. In 1965, he founded the Bay State Banner, a weekly newspaper advocating the interests of Greater Boston’s African American community. Miller has served as the Banner’s publisher and editor since its inception.
Prior to the establishment of the Banner, Miller was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. In 1973, the State Banking Commissioner appointed him as the Conservator of the Unity Bank and Trust Company, Boston’s first minority bank. Under his stewardship the bank’s operations became profitable for the first time. In 1977, the Mayor of Boston appointed him as one of the three original commissioners of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. He later became chairman of the commission in 1980, and managed its operating budget of $193.2 million.
Miller was also a founding partner in the law firm of Fitch, Miller and Tourse, a primarily corporate law firm and he engaged in the practice of law there from 1981 until 1991. He was also Vice President and General Counsel of WHDH-TV, Boston’s CBS affiliate from 1982 until 1993.
A long-term trustee of Boston University, Miller became a Trustee Emeritus in 2005. He served in the three-member National Advisory Council to American Companies doing business in South Africa under the Sullivan Principles until the council was disbanded after the fall of apartheid. Miller is also a trustee of the Huntington Theatre Company and a director of OneUnited Bank, the largest African American owned and operated bank in the U.S.
A graduate of Boston Latin School, Harvard University and Columbia Law School, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred on him by Suffolk University and Emerson College.
Memorial services are rarely festive events, but the recent celebration of the life of Barbara Clark Elam seemed to be especially solemn. Even though she had been incapacitated for some time by the throes of Alzheimer’s, her death seemed to mark the end of times when the role of community elders was significant. As Rev. Julien Cook preached allegorically in his sermon, “with the loss of an elder we lose the book.”
There seems to be confusion among some Americans about what constitutes freedom of speech in the nation. The issue arose because at least 10 students who had been admitted to Harvard University have had their acceptance revoked. They had apparently authored racially or sexually offensive memes on a social media site. The Harvard administration decided that such conduct disqualified them for admission.
It is time to find the strategy for better attendance of blacks in prep classes rather than to pursue a remedy to improve diversity at Boston Latin School that would denigrate the value of one of Boston’s treasures.
The country’s racial conflict has provided countless opportunities for individuals, both black and white, to step up. A recent obituary of Barbara Smith Conrad in the New York Times tells a tale of a conflict at the University of Texas in Austin as the college began efforts to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954.
There is little doubt that Republicans will continue to use gerrymandering to minimize the impact of the black vote. The U.S. Supreme Court will probably determine in its fall session the limits on political redistricting. It appears that the battle to maximize the impact of the black vote is not yet over.
While Mystic Valley Charter School was undoubtedly well intentioned, it was advisable to suspend the school’s dress code which now violates the U.S. Department of Justice guidelines by imposing a restriction on black students that will not apply to others.
Many people believe that Keith Motley’s reputation took a fall to benefit those who were more responsible for the UMass Boston problems.
From the black perspective monuments to Confederate generals stand for white supremacy. It is absurd for white protesters to expect that blacks, who are in the majority, would continue to tolerate the existence of the symbols of their oppression and disenfranchisement.
Boston has to work to change its culture. The “City on a Hill” must have a metropolitan demeanor in order to sustain its lofty reputation. But there must be some considerable effort to identify the causes of the mindless white racism.
Patriot’s Day is a major holiday in Massachusetts. It is a celebration of the beginning of America’s Revolutionary War against Britain. Every year a rider impersonating William Dawes rides a horse from Eliot Square in Roxbury to warn the residents of the western suburbs that “the British are coming.” Minutemen reenactors confront the British Redcoats in Concord and Lexington and once again fire “the shot heard around the world.” The performance of the colonial militia generated a strong interest among early Americans in maintaining the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.