In 1983, Mel King (a five-term State Representative) ran for mayor of Boston, developing the Rainbow Coalition theme and becoming the first and only African-American to become one of Boston’s two mayoral finalists. Jesse Jackson, as a 1984 presidential candidate, made the Rainbow Coalition idea known nationally.
The Rainbow Coalition grew into a multi-issue multi-racial organization not only in Boston but also in other Mass. cities. In the 1990s, it became the Rainbow Coalition Party. Similarly, the Green Party was getting more organized both nationally and in Mass. When Ralph Nader ran as a Green candidate for president, the Rainbow Coalition Party endorsed him.
Though the Rainbow Coalition Party was largely known for its social justice platform, the environment was also an important component of their work. The Massachusetts Greens were always known as an environmental party, but they also emphasized social justice issues. The two parties began negotiations to join forces and worked together on some campaigns and issues.
In 2002, the two parties combined into one. The Massachusetts Green Party changed its name to the Green-Rainbow Party, the official Mass. affiliate of the Green Party of the U.S. The Party values its dual traditions and joint identity. While some identify the rainbow primarily with the LGBT movement, that is a positive connotation in light of the GRP’s commitment to gay rights as part of all human rights. Moreover, the rainbow remains a universal symbol of hope, promise, and diversity.