Here at MIT, we have literally thousands of books, computers and resources at our immediate disposal. However, no matter how smart and innovative we are in using them, we will not achieve and witness the full spirit of Dr. King unless we begin to commit ourselves to helping those who are less fortunate than we are.KENNETH KWEKU BOTA- Biochem graduate-student speaker at the 34th Annual MLK Celebration
Ensuring Educational Access: Our Challenge, Our Opportunity
Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond '75
Founding Pastor, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Michael S. Feld '63, SM '63, PhD '67
Professor of Physics
Director, George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory
Former Chair, MIT Equal Opportunity Committee
Leo Osgood, Jr.
Former MIT Head Basketball Coach
Former Director, Office of Minority Education (OME)
Former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Assistant Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP)
Director, MIT@Lawrence Program
Administrative Assistant, George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory
Ali S. Wyne '08
IAP MLK Design Seminar
Marie Curie Research Fellow and Fulbright Fellow, MIT DUSP
“Urban Design and Civil Protest”
MIT Museum Compton Gallery
Reverend Ray Hammond is a physician and founding pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston.
Hammond, a native of Philadelphia, is well known in the Boston area for his leadership and involvement in community and youth activities. He is chair and co-founder of the Ten Point Coalition, an ecumenical group of clergy and lay leaders working to prevent violence and mobilize the Greater Boston community on behalf of at-risk youth.
Hammond also serves as executive director of Bethel's Generation Excel program; as chair of the Boston Foundation; and as vice president for membership of the Boy Scouts Minuteman Council in Boston. He is an executive committee member of the Black Ministerial Alliance and serves as a trustee of Catholic Charities of Boston, of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and of the Yawkey Foundation, among other organizations.
Hammond received his BA from Harvard College. He was a graduate of the first cohort of the Joint Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, receiving his MD degree from Harvard Medical School. After completing his surgical residency at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, he joined the emergency medicine staff at Cape Cod Hospital.
He has written widely on topics including academic achievement, diversity and the ethics of reproductive technology, and has received numerous honors including honorary doctorates from Boston University, Lesley College and Northeastern University.
He devoted himself to the ministry in 1976 and received his MA in religion, concentrating on Christian and medical ethics, from Harvard University in 1982.
Hammond is married to Reverend Gloria White-Hammond, MD, a pediatrician, co-pastor of Bethel AME in Boston, and co-chair of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur. They have two daughters and live in Boston.
In 1988, MIT appointed a committee chaired by Professor Michael S. Feld of the Physics Department. The Institute Committee was charged with considering how MIT could further call community attention to Dr. King’s life, work, and contributions. Among the committee’s recommendations were the establishment of the MLK Visiting Scholars program in 1991 and its expansion, the MLK Visiting Professors program, in 1995. Since then, the MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars Program has enriched the intellectual life of MIT.
In 2008, the MLK Committee presented MLK Leadership Awards to Physics Professor Michael S. Feld SB '63, SM '63, PhD '67 and former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Leo Osgood Jr.
The MLK Committee cited Feld and Osgood for their co-leadership of the MLK Committee over the past decade and their instrumental roles in establishing the MLK Visiting Professor program.
Feld, professor of physics and director of the spectroscopy laboratory [since 1976], is a former chair of MIT's Equal Opportunity Committee. He began his teaching career at MIT in 1968.
MIT Professor of Physics Michael S. Feld made fundamental contributions in the field of laser science and later applied physics.
Feld first came to MIT in 1958 as an undergraduate. He went on to do his PhD at MIT under the supervision of Professor Ali Javan, and in 1968 he became a member of the MIT faculty. During his 52 years at MIT he was an active contributor to the Institute community; he was particularly proud of his work helping to develop a welcoming ambience for minority students, staff and faculty.
“He had an amazing track record of mentoring African-American scientists, including astronaut Ronald McNair, who received his PhD under Michael’s supervision. In turn, Ron became Michael’s karate master. Michael delighted in illustrating the physics of karate with classroom demonstrations like breaking a wooden board with a swift blow. And when Michael stopped advancing at the brown belt, he encouraged his sons to persist to obtain black belts, showing that the true master is the one who helps others to achieve their best,” said Edmund Bertschinger, head of MIT’s Department of Physics.
Feld's research interests ranged from fundamental physics — superradiance and innovations in laser spectroscopy — to biomedicine and biomedical engineering, new kinds of microscopy, spectroscopic identification of cancer cells, and novel uses of the electric field to study cell behavior. In 1973, Feld made the first experimental observation of superradiance, the collective spontaneous emission of an assembly of excited atoms. In 1987, he began a series of experiments to study the radiation of a single, isolated atom in an optical resonator, which led to the first demonstration of enhanced and suppressed spontaneous emission and radiative level shifts in an open optical resonator and, in 1994, to the development of the single atom laser.
Feld's more recent research activities dealt with laser biomedicine. He directed the Laser Biomedical Research Center at MIT, where he worked on the use of fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy to diagnose biological tissues and image disease via endoscopy and optical tomography.
Feld was a hard worker who inspired his students to follow his example, said Ramachandra Dasari, associate director of the Spectroscopy Lab, who has been a friend and colleague of Feld’s since 1980. At the time, Feld was trying to persuade Dasari to leave a job in India to come to MIT, which he was reluctant to do. “I told him to give me a 10-month appointment and then I would go back,” Dasari said. But Feld’s friendship and willingness to let Dasari work on whatever he liked convinced him to stay. “Both professionally and personally my life has been intertwined with Michael’s for so many years we have become members of each other’s families,” said Dasari.
Feld supervised more than 50 PhD students during his career, and even in the past few months, as he was in and out of the hospital, he continued coming into the lab and working with his graduate students.
He also enjoyed singing and started a group called the Spectratones, which performed at Spectroscopy Lab events. Many of the group’s songs were based on poems that Feld composed about his students and colleagues, said Dasari. Last summer, the Spectratones performed at “Feld Fest,” a symposium held to honor Feld’s 50 years at MIT and 33 years as director of the Spectroscopy Lab.
Feld received the Thompson Award in 1991 for the development of biomedical Raman spectroscopy, and the Vinci of Excellence (France) in 1995 for development of the single atom laser. In 1992, he was the Wolk Visitor and Lecturer at Colgate University. He was 1996 Distinguished Baetjer Colloquium speaker at Princeton University. He was a research member of the joint faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health, Science and Technology, and an adjunct staff member in the Department of Cardiovascular Research of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. In 2003, he received the Lamb Medal of the Physics of Quantum Electronics Conference for the first experimental demonstrations of superradiance and the microlaser and for pioneering applications of optics to biological physics.
The MLK Committee presented MLK Leadership Awards to former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Leo Osgood Jr. and physics Professor Michael S. Feld.
The MLK Committee cited Feld and Osgood for their co-leadership of the MLK Committee over the past decade and their instrumental roles in establishing the MLK Visiting Professor program.
Osgood received BS and MS degrees from Northeastern University in 1970. He came to MIT in 1977, serving as head basketball coach and in various senior leadership roles, including director of the Office of Minority Education, until his retirement.
Leo Osgood's many roles at MIT had a profound impact on the students, faculty and staff with whom he worked.
During the course of his career, Osgood served as an associate dean and director of the Office of Minority Education, dean on call, associate professor, and coach of the MIT men's basketball team; his legacy has many dimensions through which run consistent themes of leadership, caring, tenacity and inspiration. In reflecting on his passing, one of his coworkers described him as "welcoming, demanding, and caring. He encouraged you to do your best and wanted to help you achieve your dreams."
Osgood began his career at MIT in 1977 as an assistant basketball coach and became head coach in 1986, a position he would hold for the next nine years. In 1983, while his coaching responsibilities grew to associate coach, Osgood's role was expanded to assistant dean in the counseling section of the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs. For the next 12 years, he was the sole dean on call, helping students work through academic and personal emergencies after hours. In this role, he personally touched the lives of many students often in their most desperate time of need.
In 1986, Osgood added assistant professor in athletics to his broad range of responsibilities and contributions. Once again, his drive for excellence and his ability to connect with students shone through. A faculty member who worked with Osgood in Athletics described him as "a caring and excellent teacher. He was always prepared and sought to have the students get to know each other, rather than just come to class. I really admired that about Leo. He truly cared about the students, their learning process, and developing community at MIT. "
During the next decade, Osgood was active and thoroughly engaged in fostering the development of underrepresented students, faculty and staff at MIT. He was on the faculty advisory board of the Office of Minority Education (OME) and was a significant contributor to OME's Interphase, a summer program that provides academic enrichment, confidence and community building for newly admitted freshmen. At the same time, he co-chaired MIT's Martin Luther King Jr. Committee as it conceived and initiated the Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholars Program, and he co-chaired a presidential task force for career development of underrepresented minority administrators at the Institute. His demonstrated leadership, commitment and ability to connect with students led to his appointment as associate dean and director of the Office of Minority Education in 1995. He served in this role until he retired from MIT in 2006.
In 1990, the late Constantine Simonides, vice president and secretary of the Corporation, praised Osgood's leadership at MIT: "He is someone that young people can look up to for his accomplishments," Simonides said. "He is a disciplined coach who is both kind and tough, a combination that may be a requirement for success at MIT, but represents a balance very difficult to achieve."
A native of Charleston, S.C., Osgood came to Boston as a young boy. He earned a BS in business administration and an MS in education from Northeastern, where he was a highly successful basketball player. When he graduated in 1970, he was Northeastern's fifth all-time leading scorer with more than 1,000 career points. Osgood was inducted into the Northeastern's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.
Osgood was one of a core group of administrative leaders who contributed to the personal and professional successes of many MIT graduates. In the words of MIT President Emeritus Charles M. Vest, this group "enabled the MIT student body to become remarkably diverse." For several generations of underrepresented students, Osgood provided guidance and support; at times he was a lifeline. In "Technology and the Dream," Dr. Clarence Williams' book of personal reflections on the Black experience at MIT, former students cited Osgood as "one of the most influential people in (my) MIT years" in terms of their adjustment to and perseverance at MIT. For them, Osgood was a consistent and essential mentor who, "whatever foolishness I might have been going through," was "still willing to listen and help me out."
Lorlene Hoyt holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Landscape Architecture from the State University of New York, and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Hoyt’s principal fields of interest are city-campus partnerships, community economic development, and digital storytelling. From 2002-2011, she was an Assistant then Associate Professor of Urban Planning at MIT, where she founded and led MIT@Lawrence, an award-winning city-campus partnership with the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
As director of the MIT@Lawrence program, Lorlene Hoyt has broadened DUSP students' opportunities for on-site, practical work in Lawrence, Mass. Nominating materials cited Hoyt's leadership in working across racial and ethnic lines to bring a wide spectrum of MIT resources to an impoverished community.
"I am honored to accept this award and do so on behalf of the residents and civic leaders in the city of Lawrence as well as countless students, staff and faculty throughout the Institute who are the lifeblood of MIT@Lawrence and the embodiment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideals," Hoyt said. MIT News, 22 Feb 2008
Transforming Cities and Minds Through the Scholarship of Engagement: Equity, Economy, and Environment (Vanderbilt University Press, 2013), edited by Lorlene Hoyt, resulted from a collaborative thesis project with MIT students.
Written by engaged scholars and practitioners, Transforming Cities and Minds is an "instrument-for-action" on the problems faced by U.S. cities that have suffered from decades of disinvestment. The book advocates the concept of reciprocal knowledge: real learning on both sides, campus and city, through a complex network of human relationships.
Across the country from Camden to Oakland, the contributors engaged with community partners--hospitals, churches, community development corporations, community foundations, and other rooted institutions--to help restore old cities to life. Their collaborative thesis project engaged them with one another and university staff; it may offer a new paradigm for graduate education.
Zina Queen is an administrative assistant in the George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory. She was nominated by her colleagues, including a former MLK Leadership Award winner, for her commitment to fairness for all MIT employees and her willingness to volunteer on committees charged with improving the quality of work life for support staff.
"Receiving the MLK Leadership Award means the world to me," Queen said. "We live and grow together as a community. When I use those words, I don't just mean black and white. I'm speaking about diversity with different ethnic backgrounds, diversity of gender and, most of all, diversity here at MIT as an institution of higher learning. Yes, I too have a dream."
December 28, 2010
“It feels like I’ve always been here,” says Zina Queen. Both Zina’s grandmother and mother previously worked at MIT. She recalls coming here after school to wait for her grandmother, who gave her tasks to do.
Her first job after college was at MIT Medical in 1986, and with the exception of three years she took off after the birth of her daughter, she’s worked in various jobs at MIT ever since.
In 2001, she transferred to the Spectroscopy Lab, where she continues to work today. “I was here longer than any other administrative assistant who worked for Professor [Michael] Feld,” she says. He passed away in 2010, and she recalls him fondly as someone who demanded high standards “but had a vision.”
Her most significant highlight at MIT was receiving an MLK Leadership Award in 2008 for her can-do efforts on the MIT Working Group on Support Staff Issues and with the Sisters and Brothers of MIT. She also volunteers on the Child Care Committee, the Medical Consumer Advisory Committee, and the MLK Celebration Committee. Outside MIT, she’s active in community work through her church and sings with the Harlem Gospel Choir, which travels around the country and the world.
Zina is proud of the ground-breaking work of the Spectroscopy Lab, pointing to the recent development of a device that tests blood glucose levels without finger pricks for people with diabetes. “I’m in the midst of it all,” she says. “Whatever they need—supplies, keeping calendars, travel—I get it done.”
As for her daughter, now age 16, she just might make it four generations to work at MIT someday.
Ali S. Wyne '08 is a senior majoring in management. Fellow students cited Wyne, vice president of MIT's Undergraduate Association and a prolific opinion writer for The Tech, for embodying King's spirit and qualities of leadership.
Wyne has worked on campus activities to promote awareness of international development and the ethical implications of technology; he is engaged in interfaith dialogue on campus, and he is an organizer of the Global Poverty Initiative, an undergraduate student project, they noted.
For Wyne, celebrating King's vision means celebrating ordinary and extraordinary people. "The civil rights movement began as a conversation between two ordinary people. Had it not been for thousands who were harassed, beaten and killed, the world may never have known what King's dream was," he said.
While I came to MIT with a strong interest in international affairs, I didn't have a structured way of evaluating other people's commentary about events of the day, let alone of developing my own analysis. Majoring in Course 17 sharpened my thinking – for starters, by demonstrating the importance of using precise language to express one's arguments. For example, when one advises the United States to "engage" countries with which it has strained, even adversarial relationships, what concrete policies actually constitute that engagement?
My coursework also compelled me to think more strategically. While the U.S. has many national interests, it doesn't have the capacity to pursue them all, at least not to the same extent – especially in an age of austerity. Policymakers must accordingly distinguish those interests that are vital from those that are "merely" very important or important. My professors gave me tools for making such distinctions.
Investigates the relationship between forms of protest and civic space, focusing on events of the last half-century in Buenos Aires, Beijing, Tel Aviv, Leipzig and other cities around the world
Presented as a socio-spatial laboratory, the exhibit offers a window into how people use, manipulate, claim and appropriate urban space while advocating for their own values, underscoring the ways in which urban space is used as a leading actor in the social and visual production of civil protests.
The exhibit explores three themes – Voice, Boundaries and Appropriation – as the key spatial elements of protest. An array of kiosks displays the settings of specific protests from the 1960s on, using models, plans, sections and photos. Each kiosk also holds drawers filled with photos, books, newspaper stories and other documents providing more detail on the event and illustrating the differences and similarities of protests’ scales, forms and type.
A sound installation of voices from various events illustrates ‘spatial dialogues’, conceived as a form of communication between citizen and regimes, emphasizing the way individual and crowd voices are formed and performed in public space. And a video installation examines the ways different crowds occupy space, including circular, grid and concentric forms of protest throughout the world.
The exhibit was curated by Tali Hatuka, Marie Curie Research Fellow and Fulbright Fellow in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Hatuka works primarily on social and architectural issues, and on the relationships between urban form, violence, everyday life and modern society.
Following the opening reception in February, James Holston delivered the inaugural Ross Silberberg Memorial Lecture for the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Holston is the author of The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Brasilia and Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. His research examines the worldwide insurgence of democratic citizenships in the context of global urbanization. His talk was followed by a brief panel discussion with Lawrence Vale, Head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Diane Davis, Head of the department’s International Development Group.
Funding for the exhibit was provided by the European Community, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the Council for the Arts at MIT and the Israel Lottery Council for the Arts.
My thanks to President Susan Hockfield for hosting this breakfast and extending this invitation through my friend and colleague, Karl Reid. My greetings to friends too numerous to begin recalling.
Had the pleasure of attending last night's dinner to honor five individuals who embody that spirit of serving what MLK called "the beloved community." To my joy I knew three of them--Zina Queen, a Cambridge community activist and fellow member of that community of faith called St. Paul AME church in Central Square; Leo Osgood--a leader of OME; and Michael Feld--for a brief moment fellow students in the karate class taught by Sensei Ron McNair and for a lifetime fellow admirers of Dr. Ron McNair. My congratulations also to Ali S. Wyne and Lorlene Hoyt.
'We shall overcome, we shall overcome. We shall overcome someday.
Oh, deep in my heart I do believe, We shall overcome someday.'
That was the song of the '60s. It was sung in segregated schools and on integrated picket lines. It was chanted in sanctified church pews and on secular bar stools. From the backwoods of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, to the towering projects of Chicago, Illinois, folks were singing about overcoming--someday. The lyrics affirmed a dream for mothers whispering background music to the cries of their sun-kissed babies. Those same lyrics confirmed a reality for mourners singing at the gravesides of countless numbers of individuals--mostly black, some white--who sacrificed their tears, then their sweat and finally their very blood to die for that dream. We shall overcome somedayâ€¦
We are here this morning to celebrate the life of a man named Martin Luther King Jr.--a man who was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 15, 1929, the son of MLK Sr., a prominent Baptist pastor, and Alberta King; a bright young man who entered Morehouse College at age 15 and had received his PhD from Boston University by age 26; a man who could have chosen a secure and prosperous life as the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, with the full assurance that he would succeed his father as the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He could have led a quiet life of prestige and financial security as a leading pastor, local community figure, or even a college or seminary professor cloistered in the security of the ivory tower. But when a tired black woman--named Rosa Parks--refused to give up her seat to a white patron on the bus, the call went out for a coordinator and leader. MLK answered the call and for the remainder of his life, he was caught up in the task of setting the captives of American society free. He went on to become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and in 1968, at the young age of 39, while leading Memphis garbage workers in a strike for decent wages, he was assassinated. Even those who supported him in words only or who disagreed with him ideologically could not deny the pivotal role he played in bringing African-Americans out of the basement of American society. By his life and his leadership he demonstrated that the power to bring about change belonged to all people, including those of African descent: that the forces of evil are not always triumphant; and that one need not become like one's oppressor in the course of fighting oppression.
Indeed, the importance of MLK goes far beyond the gains won for people of African descent in America. MLK should be as much remembered for the fact that he called America and, indeed, all mankind to task for failing to live up to its ideals. He should be remembered because he began with the pursuit of civil rights, moved to the pursuit of human rights, and along the way helped to set in motion a movement that continues to bear fruit for peoples of other colors, women, the disabled and oppressed people around the world. His was a life that made a difference for all people--whether they were sharecroppers struggling for the right to vote, children fighting for the right to a decent education, garbage workers striking for decent pay, African freedom fighters struggling against colonialism and apartheid, Irish marchers for equality in Derry, or people standing before the shattered ruins of the Berlin Wall singing "We Shall Overcome."
It is fitting and right that we honor his memory--not simply with flowery words in praise of a leader now dead, but in an honest look at the state of his dreams which are living. Here we stand at a time some:
and the question we must ask ourselves on this day is "Where do we go from here?"
It's a timely question for there is no doubt in my mind that were Dr. King alive to see this day and time, he would be amazed--amazed at the fact that:
He would be amazed by the impact of a movement begun by himself and a host of freedom fighters, most of whom remain nameless.
But I'm also sure that were he here, Dr. King would agree that the most pressing matter is not simply commemorating his life, nor remembering the civil rights movement, but rather asking ourselves this question--"In the face of continuing challenges, unaddressed problems, and new crises, where do we go from here?"
This is always a ticklish subject. How do we acknowledge the reality of past and present discrimination in opportunities and resources without getting into whips and leather, the guilt game, and contests to decide which group has been more victimized? Is it possible to remember and address our history so that we are not, as George Santayana warned us, "destined to repeat its mistakes," while not becoming trapped by that history in a never-ending cycle of recrimination and denial. Where do we go from here?
That's the title of a book Martin Luther King published in 1967, the year before his death--Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? At the time King wrote this book, the civil rights movement was at an important crossroads. It was under pressure from whites who argued that the gains already realized were sufficient and that it was unrealistic and unnecessary for blacks to press any further claims. On the other side were blacks who argued that the pace of progress was far too slow and that the time had come to struggle by any means necessary, including violence. The former accused King of being too militant and a rabble-rouser; the latter accused him of being too conservative and an Uncle Tom. The question was timely then and it's timely now.
It's the question that I ask of myself as a leader in the faith community and the philanthropic community every time that I recall:
Where do we go from here?
And it's the question that I raise to the ranks of elite academics and students this morning in general and my alma mater MIT in particular. In a globally interconnected, shrinking and increasingly diverse world where does the research university and this research university go from here? As the barriers fall and the glass ceilings are shattered in the private and public sector, where do we go from here? In what many have called "the post-Civil Rights era" what do we really mean when we talk about "Ensuring Educational Access: Our Opportunity, Our Challenge" and where do we go from here?
I need not tell you that the debate over diversity remains contentious at best and divisive or polarizing at worst. Whether promulgated under the rubric of affirmative action, multiculturalism, transculturalism, set-asides or affirmative opportunity, there tends to be much heat and often little light in discussions around this subject. Let's begin by acknowledging that while there are certainly people who are racist, sexist or classist there are also many people who are not captive to any of those "isms" and who yet remained troubled by what they see and hear whenever the discussion or policy deliberations turn to the subject of diversity. What they see is the potential for, if not the reality of, reverse discrimination--i.e, doing now to others in the majority what was once done to those in the minority. What they hear is the lowering of standards--playing fast and loose with competencies and qualifications for the sake of a numbers game. What they envision is the nightmare of social engineering--attempting to change human relationships by law or regulations or policies. But is it reverse discrimination to nurture the interest of youth and search for the best and brightest among people of every race, ethnic background, and gender, especially those to whom the world of science and technology have been an invisible kingdom? I don't think so. Is it a lowering of standards to consider not only standardized test scores and grades, but recommendations and evidence of performance in the lab? I don't think so. And finally, is the quest for diversity with excellence an example of social engineering or is it, instead, the kind of social engagement that characterizes a community, a nation, a profession and a university at its best.
Let me quickly suggest three reasons for strengthening our commitment to ensuring educational access at every level of the research university. Succinctly stated, they are pipeline, pedagogy and policy.
By the middle of the 21st century, it is projected that there will be no majority population in America--non-Hispanic whites will be 50 percent or fewer of the nation's citizens.1 Because of differences in birth rates and immigration patterns we are becoming a more diverse nation day by day. That's true of Boston--a fact which is utterly astounding to me. As someone who came to Boston in 1967 from the city of Philadelphia, where people of color rule the subways, I got on the Blue Line at Logan Airport, discovered that I was the only person of color on the train and immediately wondered what planet I had landed on. Forty years later there is no racial or ethnic majority in this city. What implications does all of that have for the replenishing the ranks of science and technology?
Let me be clear. No one should ever suggest that only blacks or Hispanics or women can or should be the role models for young blacks, Hispanics or women. It does, however, appear that at least two things may be true. The first is that the presence, advocacy and decision-making power of minority members within a professional setting can help to sensitize that profession to needs of other minority members. The second is that minority professionals play a vital, though not exclusive role, as mentors and role models, in overcoming one of the major obstacles to recruiting other minority members to the profession, i.e. the pool of interested, available and qualified minorities.2
If the recruitment of the best possible pool for the future of science and technology is the goal, can we afford to overlook the need to increase the diversity in the ranks of its practitioners?
Nor is the pipeline the only issue. There's the matter of pedagogy. Mano Singham reports the following in his wonderful article entitled "The Canary in the Mine: The Achievement Gap Between Black and White Students" in Phi Delta Kappan.3
"One study originated around 1974 at the University of California, Berkeley, and was the result of an observation by a mathematics instructor named Uri Treisman.4 He noticed (as had countless other college instructors) that black and Hispanic students were failing in the introductory mathematics course in far greater numbers than were members of any other ethnic group and were thus more likely to drop out of college. This occurred despite remedial courses, interventions, and other efforts aimed directly at this at-risk group. Treisman inquired among his colleagues as to the possible reasons for this phenomenon and was given the usual list of suspect causes: black students tended to come from homes characterized by more poverty, less stability, and a lack of emphasis on education; they went to poorer high schools and were thus not as well prepared; they lacked motivation; and so forth. Rather than accept this boilerplate diagnosis, Treisman actually investigated to see if it was true. He found that the black students at Berkeley came from families that placed an intense emphasis on educationâ€¦.There was also a wide diversity among them - some came from integrated middle-class suburban neighborhoods; others, from inner-city segregated ones.
"What Treisman then did was to narrow his investigation to just two groups-- blacks and the high-achieving ethnic Chinese minorityâ€¦.He discovered that, while both blacks and Chinese socialized with other students in their group, the Chinese also studied together, routinely analyzing lectures and instructors, sharing tips and explanations and strategies for success. They had an enormously efficient information network for sharing what worked and what didn't. If someone made a mistake, others quickly learned of it and did not repeat it. In contrast, the black students partied together, just like the Chinese, but then went their separate ways for studying. This tendency resulted in a much slower pace of learning, as well as the suffering that comes with having to learn from mistakes. Black students typically had no idea where they stood with respect to the rest of the class, and they were usually surprised by the fact that they received poor grades despite doing exactly what they thought was expected of them, such as going to class, handing in all their assignments on time, and studying for as many hours as other students.
"Treisman addressed this problem by creating a workshop for his mathematics students. In these workshops, students were formed into groups and worked on mathematics problems together. Discussion and sharing of information were actively encouraged and rewarded. By this means, Treisman sought to introduce to all his students (not just those who happened to chance upon this effective strategy) the value of group academic effort and sharing as methods of achieving academic success. One notable feature of this experiment was that the working groups were mixed ethnically and in terms of prior achievement. The second noteworthy feature was that the students were given very challenging problems to work on, much harder than the ones that they would normally have encountered in the regular coursesâ€¦. The ethnically mixed nature of the groups avoided the perception that this was a remedial program aimed at blacks, while the explicitly challenging nature of the problems posed to the students meant that there was no stigma attached to failing to solve them.5 Failure was simply due to the difficulty of the problems, not to membership in an ethnic group that was assumed to be incapable of achieving academic success. In addition, when students did succeed in solving a problem, they experienced a sense of exhilaration and power at having achieved mastery of something difficult, which, as anyone who has experienced it will testify, is the only real and lasting incentive to high achievement. What Treisman found was that, as a result of his workshops, black students' performance improved by as much as one letter grade."
This work is very interesting in light of the research of Scott E. Page, whose mathematical modeling and case studies demonstrate that diversity in staffing can produce organizational strength. Perhaps we are cheating all of our students when we fail to work hard at developing diversity in the research university.
Finally, there's the realm of policy, social policy in particular. Scientists are more than the discoverers of new knowledge and ways to apply that knowledge. They are integral to the discussion of how and why that science and technology should be deployed. They should be a part of the discussion about global warming and how to weigh the prior and ongoing damage done by developed economies in Europe and North America vs. the growing damage being done by developing countries in Asia, Africa, and S. America. They should be part of the discussion about allocation of scarce technological resources, whether they be advanced AIDS drugs or funds for promising areas of research. They cannot be the sole arbiters of such questions; neither can they abdicate the responsibility for dealing with such questions and delegate such matters to civic and governmental leaders. Scientists and engineers must be educators, debaters, advisors, and, sometimes, deciders. What they cannot be are the monolithic, mono- or bi-racial, and unrepresentative guardians of information and wielders of authority. Such a state of affairs is growing to be as untenable in science and technology as it is in politics and business.
Pipeline, pedagogy, and policy. Perhaps I have raised more questions than I have provided answers. Nonetheless these questions, though difficult, are unavoidable.
I'm reminded of the story of two hunters who flew deep into remote Canada in search of elk. Their pilot, seeing that they had bagged six elk, told them the plane could only carry four out. "But the plane that we had last year was exactly like this one," the hunters protested. "The horsepower was the same, the weather was similar, and we had six elk then." Hearing this the pilot reluctantly agreed. They loaded up and took off--but sure enough there was insufficient power to climb out of the valley with all that weight, and they crashed. As they stumbled from the wreckage, one hunter asked the other if he knew where they were. "Well, I'm not sure," replied the second, "but I think we are about two miles from where we crashed last year."
As a society, we understand very well how to crash--how to live in a state of denial and wait for somebody, anybody else to provide the answers. We know how to tolerate situations of inequity and to try to put the best face on them as the ways things are or as the way God intended them to be or as the fault of those not as gifted as ourselves. My hope and prayer is that, as a nation which has gone through a civil war and a civil rights movement, we can make a firm, moral and practical commitment to opening the doors of opportunity ever wider to an ever growing circle of people.
I am a product of that opportunity extended and opportunity seized. Lured by the prospect of a program that offered a graduate school approach to medical education I became a member of the first class of the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (or simply HST). It was in that setting that I got my best exposure to the rigors of scientific thinking and research as applied to human physiology and human disease. It was also the venue in which I was challenged to think about health economics, health policy, and medical ethics. I didn't get a Ph.D. but I did use the knowledge I gained in the practice of medicine for more than 15 years. More importantly, that training and discipline continues to directly inform and affect my work in supporting AIDS work in W. and E. Africa as well as health care reform in MA where I've had the privilege of working on universal health care. That training and discipline informs and affects my work in community safety and youth violence--arenas in which I, along with others, continue to push the research, policy, and programs that can address not just high-risk youth (the symptoms, if you will) but high-risk families which are the vectors for a variety of societal and personal diseases, including poverty, mental illness, unemployment, family breakdown, substance abuse, and domestic violence, to name just a few. The only thing more dysfunctional than the families from which many of my youth come is the dysfunctional bureaucracies (filled with good-hearted people with good intentions) that spend far too much on mopping up the water on the floor and far too little on turning off the tap that is making the sink overflow. It's my blessing to use my training in how to think in arenas far and wide. Many of my classmates and those who followed (including that small number of students of color) have gone on to do exciting work in science and technology. I'm proud to be a part of that cadre. And now my hope is that the cadre will increasingly reflect the country and world it serves.
I remain unshakable in my conviction that we can go forward as a learned community and we can go forward as a nation. We can go forward if everyone--black, white, Hispanic, Asian, male or female--can become as preoccupied with their responsibilities toward others as they are with their rights for themselves. We must echo the words of Martin Luther King who warned thirty years ago:
"Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy;â€¦now is the time to make justice a reality for all God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment."
Where do we go from here? The choice is ours. It's ours to choose whether we remove the yoke of oppression and become what MLK called "the drum majors for justice." Where do we go from here? It's ours to choose whether we are paralyzed by fear or are energized by a faith in God and in one another. Where do we go from here? It's ours to choose whether the gifted and the blessed among us are willing to share their resources with those less blessed â€¦ simply be doctors or, instead, become ministers of healing â€¦ lawyers â€¦ ministers of justice and reconciliation; businesswomen and businessmen or guardians of the earth's resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, human and material; politicians and policy makers will be real public servants who model the ideals of servant-leadership, integrity, and a vision broader than the results of the latest polls. teachers â€¦ educators who impart learning about life in all its wonder and possibility and the inspirers of another generation; students preparing to find a job or scholars fulfilling their calling in life â€¦ whether we will combine the music of slaves in the 19th century with the words of freedom marchers in the 20th century and sing as we travel through the 21st century:
"Ain't gonna let nobody turn me aroundâ€¦(x2)
I'm gonna keep on a walkin', keep on a talkin', walkin' up the freedom trail."
This the faith we must take with us as we do our work each day and as we forge a new vision for America in the 21st century. Choosing this course will take vision â€¦ will take faith â€¦ will take hard work, but if, as one people--black white, brown, red and yellow, rich and poor, male and female, young and old, immigrant and native-born, scientists and artist, engineer and politician--we choose this course in faith, we shall really overcome.
1Census Bureau. Population Projections of the United States by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Feb 1996.
2This certainly seems to be true in medicine. See Johnson JC et al. "Extending the Pipeline for Minority Physicians: a Comprehensive Program for Minority Faculty Development." Academic Medicine. Mar 1998; 7--3?,3 no. 3: 237-44. See also Carline JD et al. "Precollege Enrichment Programs Intended to Increase the Representation of Minorities in Medicine." Academic Medicine. Mar 1998; ~ no. 3: 288-98.
3Mano Singham. Published in: ED Online, US Dept. of Ed. published: 09/01/1998 posted to site: 10/01/1998 HYPERLINK "http://lsc-net.terc.edu/do.cfm/paper/8108/show/use_set-l_equity" http://lsc-net.terc.edu/do.cfm/paper/8108/show/use_set-l_equity. In this article, author Mano Singham suggests strategies for reducing the achievement gap between black and white students. Singham describes many research studies that indicate how this gap can be narrowed and ultimately eliminated. Reproduced with permission of Phi Delta Kappan (September, 1998, pp. 9-15)
4P. Uri Treisman, "Studying Students Studying Calculus:' College Mathematics Journal, vol. 23, 1992, pp. 362-72.
5The work of Claude Steele, a social psychologist at Stanford University, is particularly illuminating here. He has done some groundbreaking work to suggest why over half of African-American college students fail to complete their degree work, for reasons minimally related to innate ability or environmental conditioning. He suggests that the problem is that they are undervalued in ways that are sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. He also suggests that obstacles to achievement may be overcome in an atmosphere that reduces racial stereotyping. See "Race and the Schooling of Black Americans." Atlantic. Apr 1992; 269, no. 4 :68-78. See also "A Threat in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance." American Psychologist. Vol. 52, No. 6, pp. 613-629.]
©Ray Hammond, 2008
34th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Breakfast of MIT
Ensuring Educational Access: Our Challenge, Our Opportunity
February 22, 2008
Good Morning. I am Jamira Cotton. I am a senior. I am a student in the Department of Chemical Engineering. But, I am most defined by the fact that I am a Black woman at MIT. It has taken four years at the Institute for me to have a greater understanding of what that experience is. But, more importantly, a greater understanding of what I believe it has the potential to become.
Looking back, it was in the seventh grade at a gifted and talented school that I initially came to realize that I was a Black female student. I was one of only five; I stood out. It was then that I first felt the burden, that burden which so many of my fellow students and those before me have felt, of representing my entire community. When I entered public high school, and saw that I was no longer such a small minority, I thought it would be a different experience. But then I realized not only did I need to be the smart enough black girl for my white peers, but I had to be the black enough smart girl for my black peers. As a black student, I had to care about my schoolwork, but I had to be committed to my community. I had to be what Dr. WEB Dubois termed the Talented Tenth.
Written in 1903, he explained that it was up to the one in ten Black Americans who were given access to higher education to elevate the race and carry the community forward. Today, this fraction has changed and continues to rise, but the charge for us to have impact remains the same. As part of this new Talented Tenth, it is still not enough for us to simply be concerned with our own academic success-- we must be concerned about and committed to the success of our community. Our impact does not have to be as broad as Dr. Kings to live out these ideals, but we must have impact.
And so, here I am, given access to one of the best educational institutions in the nation, according to all of the popular conceptions of what an excellent institution is. But what about considering the best education as defined by Martin Luther King in The Purpose of Education? He said that: We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. So the question I raise is: Is MIT creating an environment that successfully nurtures the type of education that these visionaries have said is so vital?
This year, some fellow students and I have been working on a research project under the guidance of Tobie Weiner in the Political Science Department to try to unravel this question. We have tried to understand if black women at MIT are having a successful educational experience. MIT has done an amazing job at developing my problem solving ability, but this is a problem that I had the hardest time even trying to begin to solve. How does one even define success at MIT? We can not just consider her GPA, her participation in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, or connectivity to faculty, although these are all very important markers of success. But how do we measure her character and, as WEB Dubois demands, her ability: To be the group leader, the one who sets the ideals of the community, directs its thoughts and heads its social movements.
Character and this charge to be a leader were nurtured in me from birth by my parents. They never failed to remind me that, through Christ, I could do all things, and that I must. It was further developed after I completed the MITES program in 2003 and Dr. Karl Reid left me and 72 other students believing we could do anything, and knowing that we must. So again, I ask, does the undergraduate experience at MIT further this molding of community leaders? Am I leaving with a more mature understanding of that sense of responsibility from my parents, the exhilaration I had from MITES, the charge and urgency given to me by my forefathers? Does every student, of every race, leave knowing that they are the Talented Tenth? Are we being reminded? Who is holding us accountable?
I appreciate what MIT has done for me, and what I have been able to do for it. But I know there is more to be done. My education is not validated by just my GPA or the job I leave with, but rather by the legacy I will leave in the community that helped me get to MIT. Our challenge as a higher institution is to ensure that every student is receiving the best education they need for what they must do. I look at my class ring, and see the symbol of: Mens et Manus. But we must never forget that mind and hand-- they are incomplete, and un-alive, without heart. Thank you.
Good morning, President Hockfield; our keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond; the MLK Diversity Committee, faculty and administrators, fellow graduate and undergraduate students, and guests! My name is Kenneth Kweku Bota and I am a second year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and the Whitehead Biomedical Institute. I humbly greet you with Peace and Honor!
The first words of Charles Dickens's timeless novel, A Tale of Two Cities, reads:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the age of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.
Imagine that it is the year 2058, fifty years from now. A historian is writing about a tale of two cities, Cambridge and Boston, at the beginning of the 21st century.
He writes: In the city of Cambridge, separated from the other by the Charles River, were two extraordinary institutions of higher learning. It was the age of enlightenment and technological advances, where these two great institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University thrived. In their classrooms and libraries, engineering and chemistry labs, and even in their cafeterias and lounges, some of the greatest intellectual minds engaged in fruitful dialogue about the incredible scientific and engineering discoveries of the time. Scientific discoveries such as metathesis by Richard Schrock, the discovery of quarks by Henry Kendall and Jerome Friedman, and the unraveling of the Human Genome, were just a handful of great contributions that these institutions were making to a burgeoning and exciting scientific age.
The faculty at these institutions was replete with recipients of prestigious awards such as the Nobel Prizes, National Academies of Sciences awards, and the MacArthur "genius" awards. Their students touted the best test scores and highest GPAs; their achievements and inventiveness were remarkable. For the city of Cambridge, it was the spring of great expectations.
On the other side of the river, however, things were quite different. The city of Boston was home to the oldest public school system in the United States, established in 1635. It comprised of several smaller boroughs, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, where racial, social, and economic disparities were great. The public schools were failing miserably and the community morale was low. In Boston, the public schools that were once at the mountain tops of educational achievement had crumbled to anthills of utter failure.
The demographics of the Boston public schools were 76% black and Hispanic, 14% white, and 9% Asian. For many of the pupils in the public school system, "It was the season of darkness; it was the winter of despair."
Few students who attend MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, will ever leave their comfortable nests on this side of the Charles River, travel south down Mass. Ave. into the city of Boston, pass historic Fenway Park, and the trendy stores of Newbury St. and then venture pass the melodious concert halls of the Berklee School of Music, into the poverty stricken areas of Dorchester and Roxbury. Few will converse or engage with anyone from these neighborhoods or meet a child who attends schools that have become dilapidated and lack adequate books, computers, and other critical learning tools.
In considering the theme of this morning's breakfast, "Ensuring Educational Access: Our Challenge, Our Opportunity," I wish to briefly share an experience with you. In my first year at MIT, I had the opportunity to join the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program of Boston and was paired with a 12-year old black boy named Kris who lives with his aunt in Dorchester. Last summer, Kris and I took a field trip to visit the MIT Museum. On the way to the museum, I gave Kris a quick tour of MIT and we stopped in Hayden Library. Kris was amazed at the many books and computers that he saw and commented that in his school he could not play on the computers or spend time perusing the comic and science fiction books! Visiting MIT was a special and inspiring moment for both Kris and me.
Like Kris, many African-American and Hispanic youngsters in Boston do not know that MIT and Cambridge even exists just a few miles from them partly because MIT has failed to adequately reach out to their communities. Life in Cambridge is considerably different from life where they live and attend school.
Kris wrote a letter to me this past fall and was forthright in expressing his displeasure about his lack of access to computers and books, something we take for granted on our end of Mass. Ave. Here at MIT, we have literally thousands of books, computers, and resources at our immediate disposal. However, no matter how smart and innovative we are in using them, we will not achieve and witness the full spirit of Dr. King unless we begin to commit ourselves to helping those who are less fortunate than we are. We must commit ourselves to eradicating the Savage Inequalities that sociologist Jonathan Kozol, who taught 4th Grade at Roxbury, described in his 1991 book.
Dr. King's epitaph reads, in his own words, "Don't tell them about the Nobel Prize; don't tell them about the honorary degrees; just say that I tried to help somebody." Dr. King's life and message are treasured memories for us. But memories and inspiring words are simply not enough. It is not enough for you and me at MIT, who have had the opportunity, through a fortuitous set of circumstances, to cultivate our minds. Dr. King was concerned about the equality of opportunity and quality in all areas of life.
Dr. King is revered all over the world. He will always be remembered because, like George Bernard Shaw and Robert Kennedy, he dreamed of things that never were but could one day, be. So I have the audacity of hope that MIT will become a national leader in the effort to close the gap in educational attainment and access, between black and white, women and men, and yes, Cambridge and Roxbury.
MIT is known worldwide as a great citadel of scientific achievement. So if Dr. King were alive, he would say that MIT will become even greater when it uses its unique intellectual prowess to serve ALL the people in ALL communities. When we and future generations of MIT are able to do this, then our putative historian, writing from his time in the Cambridge of 2058, would say, it is the best of times; it is the age of wisdom; it is the epoch of belief; it is the season of Light; it is the spring of Love; we have everything before us; AND we are going directly to Heaven!
MLK celebration keynote speech by the Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond
February 28, 2008
Professional development programs enhance workplace, employee growth
February 27, 2008
MIT celebrates legacy of Martin Luther King
February 26, 2008
MLK celebration speech by MIT graduate student Kenneth Kweku Bota
February 22, 2008
MLK celebration speech by MIT senior Jamira Cotton
February 22, 2008
Five win MLK Leadership Awards
February 22, 2008
Guests speak with passion on MLK's legacy
February 22, 2008
Hammond to address MLK breakfast Feb. 21
February 6, 2008