I am frustrated with the slow pace of progress…As Dr. King showed us through his life, in order to make progress out of the darkness of hate and frustration, love must be more than a circumstantial emotion. It must be a constant state of being that filters our thoughts and regulates our actions.
MAREENA ROBINSON, PhD candidate in nuclear engineering — Graduate-student speaker at the 40th MLK Celebration
2014 40th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
MIT MLK Celebration Quadrennial
MIT celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Annual MLK Celebrations by bestowing an Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is a special honor given only during decennial celebrations to acknowledge a community member who has given dedicated service to the MIT Community. In 2014, the honor went to Professor Wesley L. Harris for his decades of work to promote diversity at MIT.
Should human rights be determined at the ballot box?
Michael Eric Dyson Cultural Critic and Scholar
MLK LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDEE
Wesley L. Harris Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
1995-96 MLK Visiting Professor
2001 MLK Leadership Award
MLK LEADERSHIP AWARDEES
Sally Haslanger Ford Professor of Philosophy, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Michael K. Owu '86
Director of Real Estate, MIT Investment Management Company
Atif M. Javed '15
Materials Science and Engineering
The Hispanic/Latino Network Lincoln Laboratories
4th Annual Institute Diversity Summit
"Demystifying Diversity: Challenge, Expand, Broaden your Perspective"
IAP MLK Design Seminar
Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, has been University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University since 2007. He is the author of sixteen books, including I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. and April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America.
About Dyson's audiobook narration of April 4, 1968, AudioFile magazine writes: "With deep, resonant projection that at times sounds eerily like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, own voice, Dyson narrates his deep exploration into the most significant aspects of King's legacy since his assassination on April 4, 1968. Paying particular attention to how politicians and cultural leaders have utilized King and his message, Dyson contrasts the real King with the misappropriated icon."
His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X became a New York Times notable book of the year. His 2007 book, Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, won an American Book Award and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction (two of his other books also won NAACP Image Awards in 2004 and 2006).
Dyson was born in Detroit, Michigan and became an ordained Baptist minister at age 19. After working in factories to support his family, he entered Knoxville College. He went on to earned his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Carson–Newman College in 1985 and his master's and Ph.D in religion from Princeton University.
Dyson has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
In addition to teaching and writing, Dyson has hosted radio shows. The Michael Eric Dyson Show radio program debuted in 2009, and is broadcast from Morgan State University; the show's first guest was Oprah Winfrey. He regularly appears as a commentator on National Public Radio and CNN, and is a regular guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. In 2011, he became a political analyst for MSNBC.
Dyson serves on the board of directors of the Common Ground Foundation, a project dedicated to empowering urban youth in the United States. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is at work on a book about Barack Obama and race.
Dr. Harris has been an MIT professor at many different points in his career, first serving from 1972-79, returning as a 1995-96 MLK Visiting Professor, then remaining at MIT from 1996 until the present. From 1975 to 1978, he served as the very first Director of MIT's Office of Minority Education (OME). His other administrative posts include Head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Housemaster for New House Residence Hall, and most recently Associate Provost for Faculty Equity. Dr. Harris is honored for his ongoing commitment to ensuring that all students achieve academically at MIT and for his work on increasing diversity efforts for faculty.
Prof. Wesley Harris, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, is all smiles at the 40th Annual MLK Breakfast. Photo: Dominick Reuter, MIT News 2014
Dr. Harris is an expert in the field of helicopter rotor aerodynamics and acoustics. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Professor Harris holds the BS (1964) in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia and the MA (1966) and PhD (1968) in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton University. He also holds an honorary doctorate (1995) from Old Dominion University.
After serving as faculty member and director of OME, he left MIT in 1979 to become dean of engineering at the University of Connecticut and was later vice president of the University of Tennessee and head of its Space Institute. Before returning to MIT as an MLK Visiting Professor in 1995, he also served as NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics and the Goldwater Professor of American Institutions at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. He rejoined the faculty in 1996 and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of the American Helicopter Society.
Confirming the nomination to his MLK Leadership Award in 2001, Professor Emeritus Leon Trilling of aeronautics and astronautics described Professor Harris as "an articulate spokesman for the causes of minorities as students and staff."
Professor Trilling, who received an MLK Leadership Award in 1996, continued: "I want to highlight what is not necessarily obvious from the formal record. That is his outstanding presence as a role model -- professionally to be sure, but more to the point, personally and morally. I have seen him counsel students with a mixture of sternness and support, and a degree of follow-up which motivated the students to do what needed to be done."
Professor Harris, who spent a day and a half with Dr. King while an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, said, "It was an amazing experience to be around him." He admires Dr. King for his courage and his sense of community, traits he has observed in the diverse group of graduate students he has worked with at MIT. "They respected each other and they respected our community... I believe Dr. King would approve of that community," he said.
Sally Haslanger holding her MLK Leadership Award. Courtesy: MIT Philosophy, 2014
Sally Haslangeris the Ford Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, and an affiliate in the MIT Women's and Gender Studies Program. She was awarded a faculty MLK Leadership Award for her ongoing scholarship and teaching around issues of gender and race.
Prof. Haslanger has published four books, mostly recently Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford University Press, 2012). This collection of essays draws on insights from feminist and critical race theory to develop the idea that gender and race are positions within a structure of social relations. Prof. Haslanger argues that gender and race are not purely natural categories, they are also 'social constructs'. The American Philosophical Association awarded Resisting Reality the 2014 Joseph B. Gittler Prize for "outstanding scholarly contribution in the field of the philosophy of one or more of the social sciences."
"I’m someone who thinks about my life philosophically and I live my philosophy," she says in a Q&A with MIT. "They’re not two separate domains for me, so it made perfect sense that I would begin to write about race in addition to writing about gender.
During her college years, Prof. Haslanger spent time living in France and India. In 1977, she graduated from Reed College with a combined philosophy-religion major and went to the University of Virginia for an MA in philosophy. She transferred in 1979 to the University of California, Berkeley, where she completed her Ph.D. 1985. Before arriving to MIT in 1998, she held teaching posts at the University of California-Irvine, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University.
From 2009-2013, Prof. Haslanger served as Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program and as President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in 2013-14. She gave the 2012 Carus Lectures at the Pacific Division meetings, titled "Doing Justice to the Social".
Prof. Haslanger's other honors include the 2010 Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the year by SWIP, the 2011 YWCA Cambridge Women of Distinction Award.
MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD
Michael Owu '86 received the MLK Leadership Award for his service to the Institute as both an alum and as staff.
After receiving his SB from MIT in 1986, Owu stayed on at the Institute as a Senior Planning Officer until 2000. Since, he has served as Director of Real Estate at the MIT Investment Management Company.
His dedicated work has brought to fruition many Institute projects, including The Central Square Theater. The performance hall broke ground at 450 Massachusetts Avenue in 2007 and now serves as the permanent home for the Nora Theatre and the Underground Railway Theater.
MIT Club of Boston is another community to which Owu has lent his gifts. He began as assistant treasurer in 2003, progressing to vice president of finance a year later and president in 2008. During his presidency, Owu quickly established more cohesiveness among club officers, revamped club programming, and improved communications.
Recognized as a leader among regional alumni volunteers, he served on an ad hoc committee of the Alumni Association (2007-2008), the Community Catalyst Leadership Program (2008-2010), and the Technology Day Committee (2008-2011). Owu's commitment led to his being nominated to the Alumni Association board of directors in 2010, a role he carried out with dedication, grace, and professionalism.
Owu was also honored with a 2014 Bronze Beaver Award by the MIT Alumni Association. The award recognizes distinguished service to the Institute and/or its Association of Alumni and Alumnae; the Bronze Beaver is the highest honor the Association bestows upon any of its members.
According to MIT AA, "The qualities that Michael brings to each role in which he serves—coupled with his familiarity with the Association’s portfolio of programs and activities—make his service to the Institute-wide community invaluable".
MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD
Atif Javed'15 is a materials science and engineering major, minoring in economics. received the undergraduate MLK Leadership for his dedication to student mentorship and teaching.
Javed is founder, director, and alumni chair of MSA Mentorship, a non-profit that connects Muslim high-school students with academic mentors and alums.
Born out of the MIT Muslim Students' Association in 2012, MSA Mentorship is a national organization designed for students seeking a deeper understanding of the intersections of education, college life, admissions, and Islam. Its vision is to connect every Muslim student with an older student mentor to help them succeed both academically and spiritually in ways their parents and imams struggle to provide. The movement provides a platform for students to teach both in the classroom and online. Javed helped develop MSA Mentorship curriculum and website for skill-building and personal development. He ran career-advice workshops, mentored 25 students, and built three university chapters.
In 2015, Javed participated in an international Global Teaching Lab through MIT International Science & Technologies Initiative (MISTI). As a teaching fellow, he built math and debate curricula for students in Mantova, Italy with online learning platforms such as EdX, MITx, and Khan Academy
He contributes to arts and culture as Boston Lead and Digital Producer for the Muslim Writers Collective. Javed hosts open-mic nights and workshops for amateur writers and seasoned professionals to come together and share their religious and social experiences.
Additional honors at MIT include: 2011 Virginia Science Olympiad- State Champions; 2011 Model United Nations Best Delegation Award; 2nd Place in Electrical & Mechanical Engineering- Intel International Science & Engineering Fair; and the 2010 Scholar Athlete Award for Varsity Track.
Javed's aspiration to leave "a legacy of success by paving the way for other ambitious students through mentorship" exemplifies the values of Dr. King.
MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD
Founding members of the Lincoln Lab Hispanic/Latino Network. Courtesy: Lincoln Lab
LLHLN enhances awareness of the Hispanic culture, supports employees' professional development, and promotes members' participation in outreach activities at Lincoln Lab and surrounding areas.
This networking resource was founded by Lincoln Lab staff to increase awareness of the growing Hispanic and Latino employee population. Membership is open to all MIT Lincoln Laboratory employees and subcontractors.
Courtesy: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 2014
MIT Lincoln Laboratory's 1st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast
In January 2014, the Laboratory sponsored its First Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast. This event was held at Hanscom Air Force Base and was attended by over 220 Laboratory employees. Dr. Wade Kornegay, former Division Fellow in the Air and Missile Defense Technology division, and Professor Percy Pierre, Vice President Emeritus and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan State University, both served as keynote speakers for the 2014 event. Read Prof. Pierre's keynote address.
MIT to hold 2014 Institute Diversity Summit
2014 Institute Diversity Summit poster. Image: Niclas Nordensved
Expand, challenge and explore diversity at the 2014 Institute Diversity Summit, to be held on Jan. 27-29. In response to attendee feedback, the Summit has been expanded to three days to better accommodate the schedules of faculty, students and staff.
The theme of this year's summit is "Demystifying Diversity: Challenge, Expand, Broaden your Perspective."
Day two features a full day of thought provoking workshops, held on the Stratton Student Center's third floor, designed to demystify diversity and help expand and broaden the perspectives of the attendees. Workshop titles include: Leveraging the Power of Diversity; How to be a Trans* Ally; Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bias; Conversations You Can’t Have on Campus; and Dispelling the Myths and Fears surrounding Disability. Sessions will take place throughout the day. Advance registration is strongly encouraged, as workshop seating is extremely limited. Space cannot be guaranteed for any registration not submitted online by Jan. 22. To see the full list of workshops visit the Institute Diversity Summit's webpage.
On Jan. 29th, the Summit will sponsor a special showing of the documentary "Brother Outsider: The Story of Bayard Rustin," at 6 p.m. in the Kirsch Auditorium (32-123). The documentary is the inspiring story of Bayard Rustin, an openly gay African-American activist and mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. who has been called the “unknown hero” of the civil rights movement. The film has won numerous awards; Rustin was recently posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
The goal of the Summit is to stimulate dialogue and offer a safe space for honest discussion about the current diversity climate at the Institute for faculty, students, and staff. It is also an opportunity to hear perspectives from various members of the MIT community, as well as leaders beyond MIT. The Summit is a collaboration among faculty, students and staff.
Students of the Martin Luther King Jr. Design Seminar, a program offered over IAP, display their art installations in Lobby 10. These projects address the principles of Dr. King and the students’ ideas on topics such as human rights, justice, racism, and equality. Sarah Liu, The Tech 2014
Speakers at MIT’s 40th annual MLK Breakfast honor King’s legacy
David L. Chandler, MIT News Office February 7, 2014
As the MIT community gathered for the 40th annual breakfast celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., speakers reflected on how much the nation has progressed toward his dream of inclusiveness over those decades — as well as on the need to keep working toward that vision, despite the fact that signs of racism in society have become less obvious.
Doctoral student Mareena Robinson, from the department of nuclear science and engineering, also spoke at this year's breakfast. Photo: Dominick Reuter, MIT News 2014
Graduate student Mareena Robinson, who is pursuing a doctorate in nuclear science and engineering, spoke on King’s leadership during the early days of the civil rights movement. “Unlike race relations today, where prejudice and discrimination is subtle and often denied by the ones who perpetrate it, the discrimination of that time was undeniable, inescapable, and not to be apologized for,” she said.
Robinson added, “It is true and must be acknowledged that much progress has been made … with the election and re-election of our first African-American president, who stands as a symbol of America’s ability to look beyond race and judge a man by the quality of his ideas and the content of his character.”
“While I can celebrate these things, I cannot be content,” Robinson said. “I am frustrated with the slow pace of progress. … As Dr. King showed us through his life, in order to make progress out of the darkness of hate and frustration, love must be more than a circumstantial emotion. It must be a constant state of being that filters our thoughts and regulates our actions.”
Margo Batie ‘14, a senior in physics and nuclear science and engineering, delivers her remarks at the breakfast. Photo: Dominick Reuter, MIT News 2014
Margo Batie, a senior majoring in physics and nuclear science and engineering, recalled her own progression from an inner-city high school in Los Angeles — a school with a 51 percent dropout rate — to the daunting challenges of MIT. “I don’t want to come here and have the one fact that distinguishes me from everyone else on this campus to be my inner-city upbringing,” she said. “I also don’t want to go home and be deemed the ‘one who made it out.’”
Batie said, “I’m not an anomaly in both worlds and I shouldn’t be one in either world. I’m a person who made personal choices and has personal interests, and these are the things that have shaped me to become who I am today. I’m owed the opportunity to embrace these things, and embrace these interests while pursuing a degree at a top institution.”
“I don’t want to be this great black nuclear engineer, or that great female physicist,” Batie added. “I want to be that great nuclear engineer who is black, and who is female.”
“Dr. King once said, ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now,’” Batie said. “I want my differences to be celebrated, and not swept under the rug.”
Keynote speaker Michael Eric Dyson, author and a professor at Georgetown University, spoke about obtaining human rights through the ballot box. Photo: Dominick Reuter, MIT News 2014
The battle for the ballot
“We have not yet arrived at the postracial future,” sociologist Michael Eric Dyson, a University Professor at Georgetown University, said in his keynote address. Dyson recalled King’s early speeches — given long before the ones that made him famous worldwide.
“He said, ‘Give us the ballot,’” Dyson said. And indeed, he added, “The ballot box became the means by which a profound transformation of America was registered.”
At the same time, Dyson said, “We now see that same ballot box used to undermine and challenge,” such as through laws that discriminate against gays or that impose drastically different penalties for drugs more prevalent in minority communities.
The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, for example, pointed to a discrepancy, Dyson said: “When it comes to people of color,” he said, drug use “is often seen as a defect of character.”
MIT President L. Rafael Reif thanks keynote speaker Michael Eric Dyson after his talk. Photo: Dominick Reuter, MIT News 2014
MIT President L. Rafael Reif, who introduced Dyson, spoke about today’s “quieter and less obvious” forms of discrimination. He cited a recent article by an Asian American computer scientist, an MIT alumnus, who talked about the stereotypes — in his case, mostly positive ones — that are still pervasive in our society.
This kind of subtle stereotyping, Reif said, is “in some ways harder to stop. … We have not yet created a society without stereotypes. We have not yet reached a place where people are judged only by the content of their character, or only by the quality of their code.”
The annual breakfast also featured music by the MIT Gospel Choir and by the choral group Tribute, and honored recipients of the Institute’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards and the MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars — participants in a program that has brought more than 100 visiting professors to MIT, Provost Martin Schmidt said, including 11 who are presently on campus.
Members of the MIT Gospel Choir, which includes students, faculty and staff members, performed at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. Photo: Dominick Reuter, MIT News 2014
This year, marking the MLK Breakfast’s 40th year, a special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Wesley Harris, the Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics.