MPDC mourns the loss of Roxbury advocate Chuck Turner, who died on Christmas Day. Many of our important early struggles would not have succeeded without the grassroots support organized in part by Chuck Turner, a committed Roxbury activist. Chuck Turner, who served ten years (2000-2010) as District 7 City Councilor representing Roxbury, first worked as an organizer for South End Neighborhood Action Program (SNAP) and was in Lower Roxbury in 1966 when Roxbury residents burned trash in Madison Park to protest the city’s disregard for the neighborhood. Thanks to Chuck and other community activists, this event elicited a massive gathering of local residents, signaling that Lower Roxbury bore significant grassroots power and scaring the city into cleaning up the park!
Also, in the 1960s and early 1970s, Chuck helped MPDC fight urban renewal plans, gaining Boston Redevelopment Authority approvals to build housing at Madison Park Village. He was key to successful efforts to stop Interstate 95.
He was founding director of Northeastern University’s African-American Institute and actively involved in the Boston Black United Front, among many other social justice endeavors. As a steering committee member of the Boston Jobs Coalition, he worked to oversee diversity compliance on city-owned projects. In that role, Chuck has worked alongside MPDC staff since 2015. He pushed to establish the Boston Residents Jobs Policy in 1983, a city ordinance requiring construction hiring percentages for residents, people of color, and women; in 2016, his continued advocacy helped revise the ordinance, significantly increasing the city requirements. Chuck Turner was not afraid; he led an exceptional life working for equity, empowerment, and social justice.
May he rest in power.