Special to Sun
Old South Church in Boston awarded Melvin B. Miller, an esteemed journalist and community leader, its prestigious Open Door Award on Sunday, May 14, as part of the church’s annual Phillis Wheatley Sunday service.
The Open Door Award was established in 2014 and is described as “a testament to Old South Church’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and celebrating individuals who embody the spirit of diversity and equality,” according to the church. The award recognizes exceptional individuals whose leadership, courage, and dedication have made a significant impact in advancing social justice and equal rights within society.
Miller has been actively involved in Boston’s political and public affairs for more than 50 years.
In 1965, he founded the Bay State Banner, a weekly newspaper advocating the interests of Greater Boston’s African American community. He has been the Banner’s publisher and editor since its inception until his recent retirement.
Miller has decades of leadership triumphs, serving as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts; Conservator of the Unity Bank and Trust Company, Boston’s first minority bank; Chairman of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission; partner in the law firm of Fitch, Miller and Tourse; Vice President and General Counsel of WHDH-TV; trustee of Boston University; director of OneUnited Bank, the largest African American owned and operated bank in the U.S.; and more.
Besides the presentation of the Open Door Award, Ade Solanke, award-winning playwright and screenwriter and founder of Spora Stories, read the scripture lesson. Solanke’s original new play, “Phillis in London,” dramatizes and re-imagines Phillis Wheatley as an enslaved African Woman writer abroad in Georgian London, ‘celebrated’ by the elite of the capital of the British empire, at the height of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Following the scripture reading will be a stirring sermon preached by the Rev. June R. Cooper, Theologian in the City at Old South Church.
Phillis Wheatley Sunday, observed annually by Old South Church, honors the legacy of the remarkable poet, who, as a slave, triumphed over adversity to become the first published African American poet in the U.S.