In 1968 Mel King helped organize a sit-in at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) office on Thursday, April 25, 1968 in protest of a planned parking garage that was going to be built at the corner of Dartmouth and Columbus Streets in the South End, a site where housing had been leveled. The next morning, Mel King organized an occupation of the lot.
While facing police retaliation, for the next three days between 100 and 400 people occupied the lot. They built tents and wooden shanties and put up a large sign welcoming the media and visitors to "Tent City." Celtic's legend Bill Russell, who owned a South End restaurant, provided food for the protesters. The story received extensive coverage in the local media. In honor of the demonstration, when a housing complex at that site was dedicated on April 30, 1988, it was named "Tent City."