I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states…Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

DR. KING, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

2017   43rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration


Inspiration

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

The 2016 United States presidential election divided the nation on a great number of issues, particularly around racism, discrimination, class, and immigration. While some in the MIT community welcome the new administration in Washington, others do not. Students, faculty, and staff on campus have expressed deep concerns about the future, prompting MIT President L. Rafael Reif to issue a call to action, "With our eyes on the future".

MIT's 2017 MLK Celebration theme “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice” is drawn from Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail". It was in response to a denunciation issued by eight white religious leaders of the South regarding the "unwise and untimely" nature of Dr. King's activism. Written on April 16, 1963, the letter appeared in the August 1963 issue of The Atlantic as "The Negro Is Your Brother". Today we look to this classic document of the civil-rights movement with our eyes on the future.

READ LETTER

MIT Homepage, 16 Jan 2017


THEME

“Lift your voice!”
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”


KEYNOTE

Aprille Joy Ericsson '86, PhD
Aerospace Engineer
Capture Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


 MLK LEADERSHIP AWARDEES

Kristala L. Jones Prather '94
MIT Professor, MacVicar Faculty Fellow
MIT Graduate Admissions Chair

Reginald (Reggie) Van Lee ’79, SM ’80
Philanthropist, Arts Advocate
Retired Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

Catherine Gamon
Director of Student Life, MIT Sloan Student Life for Master's Program

Maryanne Kirkbride
Clinical Director for Campus Life, MIT Medical

Michael J. Beautyman 'G
Mechanical Engineering
Director, MIT-EMS Ambulance Operations

Tremaan A. Robbins '17
Mechanical/Biomedical Engineering
Defensive Back, MIT Football

Muslim Students' Association


 EXHIBIT

IAP MLK Design Seminar


CONFERENCE

MC^2: 11th Annual Multicultural Conference
Radical Healing, Critical Hope: So What Now?
MIT Division of Student Life

KEYNOTE BIO

Currently, Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson '86 is the Capture (Mission) Manager for a proposed Astrophysics Mid-sized Class Explorer, STAR-X. Most recently, Dr. Ericsson serves as the NASA GSFC Program Manager for Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR). Formerly, she has served as the Deputy to the Chief Technologist for the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) with a primary focus as a Technologist has been Advanced Manufacturing, Applied Nanotechnology, miniaturization of Technology for CubeSat and SmallSat space platforms. During her 25+ year tenure with NASA, she has held numerous positions. As an Attitude Control Systems analyst, she developed practical control methods, and analyzed structural dynamics for XTE-X-Ray Timing Explorer, TRMM-Tropical Rain Forest Measurement Mission, TRACE-Transition Region & Coronal Explorer, WMAP-Wilkerson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. As a NASA HQs Program Executive for Earth Science, and a Business Executive for Space Science serving the SORCE and ICESat missions. As an Instrument Project Manager she has led spaceflight instrument teams and proposal developments; her flight missions include for JWST/NirSPEC, MMS SMART Fast Plasma Instrument (F, GEMS-Gravity and Extreme Magnetism, Small Explorer, LRO/LOLA- Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and ICESat-2/ATLAS. Dr. Aprille Ericsson aerospace research at Howard University was developing control methods for orbiting large space platforms like ISS.

Dr. Ericsson has also served as an Adjunct Faculty member at several Washington DC Area Universities. She sits on several Technical Academic boards at the National Academies, MIT and previously Howard University where she also served as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Ericsson has won numerous awards and recognitions over the years. The most prestigious was “The 2016 Washington Award” from the Western Society of Engineers. Dr. Ericsson is the first female (and the first African-American female) to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at NASA GSFC. She received her B.S. in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from MIT. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Ericsson has one daughter, Arielle Ericsson-White.


Aprille Ericsson as a high-school MITES student in 1980. Photo: MIT OME


WATCH: The 2015 X-STEM Symposium
9/13/2015

Aprille Ericsson, talks about her passion for engineering and space, from a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, NY, to a trailblazing African American woman leading in her field as an aerospace engineer at NASA’s prestigious Goddard Space Flight Center where she is currently serving as Goddard Space Flight Center’s Program Manager for Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Research. Aprille inspires all young people to follow their passion, and shares how young people can start working with NASA right now!  

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Faculty

Turning bacteria into chemical factories: Kristala Jones Prather engineers cells to produce useful compounds such as drugs and biofuels. Photo: M. Scott Brauer, MIT News, 2013


Prof. Kristala Jones Prather '94 is Professor, Chemical Engineering, MacVicar Faculty Fellow and Graduate Admissions Chair.

As stated in the nomination submitted on behalf of the Dean’s Office for Graduate Education, “Professor Prather is the embodiment of MIT’s mind, hand, heart motto. She has earned MIT’s highest recognition for her energetic and enthusiastic teaching style, serves as PI for a multi-institutional research center sponsored by the NSF, and impressively advises a large research group, in addition to mentoring undergraduates from MIT and beyond.”

In her short tenure at MIT, Professor Prather has served as a faculty mentor for 13 research interns in the MIT Summer Research Program (a level of involvement unmatched except for one other MIT faculty member), and her mentorship played a part in 9 out of the 13 alumni moving on to pursue and earn graduate degrees.

Professor Prather is also a key collaborator of the Institute-wide K-20 diversity programs coordinated by the Office of Education Outreach Programs (OEOP), Office of Minority Education (OME) and ODGE Diversity Initiatives.

And she brings her work home, too! For the last 12 years, Professor Prather and her family have organized and hosted an annual summer BBQ event to encourage the Black community members to gather socially to connect and to fellowship with each other. The first BBQ was held in June 25, 2005 and grew from just a few alumni in the first few years to an annual tradition of gathering for alumni, current students, admitted students, faculty, postdocs, MLK scholars, staff and their families. Each year, the event highlights and celebrates a member of the community who has achieved some milestone over the year, or to welcome new members, and sometimes to farewell some who move out of the area. The Prathers generosity in opening their hearts to the community, offering their home as a place to gather, their incredible leadership in encouraging people to be enthusiastic attendees and being role models for younger generations, highlight their deep commitment to building community and being of service to this community.

 


WATCH:

Kristala Jones Prather on Crafting Both Innovative and Economical Bioprocessing Technologies, MIT ILP, 9/3/2015

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Alum


The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you understand why. -RVL


Reginald (Reggie) Van Lee '79, SM '80, is a philanthropist, an arts advocate, and retired Executive Vice President of the global management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He was appointed by President Obama to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was formerly appointed by President Obama to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Reggie is the co-author of the book Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business and Non-Profits Can Tackle Today’s Global Challenges Together (St. Martin's Press, 2008). He holds SB and SM degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the Harvard Business School (HBS); and he has been named one of the 25 most influential consultants in the world.

MIT has been the recipient of Reggie’s strong leadership and service in many ways, from co-chairing reunion gift committees and serving on the Corporation Development Committee (CDC), the Alumni Fund Board and the Alumni Selection Committee; to serving as an Education Counselor (EC); to serving two terms each on the Library Visiting Committee and the MIT Council for the Arts.

As written by submitter and 2005 Leadership awardeeJames Banks ’76: "BAMIT (Black Alumni/ae Of MIT) has been the vehicle through which a large number of Black alumni have maintained or sometimes established their ongoing connection with MIT. Reggie stepped up at a time when BAMIT’s resources were scarce, and the organization’s ability to continue its missions of outreach, advocacy and undergraduate support was in jeopardy. The fundraiser for which BAMIT received the 2013 MIT Alumni Association Great Dome Award was a Sold Out success because of Reggie. He was generous in offering his NYC apartment as the venue. Reggie provided for the catering, plus initiated a matching funds challenge, all of which enabled BAMIT to raise approximately $20,000, far exceeding its goal. Many Black alumni have since assumed significant class and/or MIT Alumni Association (MITAA) positions, and the ongoing success and viability of BAMIT has been critical to that pipeline.

"When BAMIT formed an initiative to investigate the steady decline in Black undergraduate enrollment, Reggie engaged fellow Corporation members and partnered with BAMIT to raise the level of awareness and importance of this issue to senior administration at MIT. He personally met with President Reif and members of his executive team to review data and discuss causalities. As a result of the joint work of BAMIT and the subgroup that Reggie formed, there has been a staffing change that supports greater direct involvement of BAMIT in the admissions process. Concurrently a change was made in the financial aid formula for ALL students which addressed a long-standing middle-class parent financial means issue. Together with other work done by the admissions office, the result was an increase in the percentage of Blacks enrolled in the freshman class, increasing from 7% in 2013 to 11% in 2014.

"BAMIT would not hold the high level of influence it has today without Reggie’s involvement. He has not just led people to support his causes. Reggie has brought people to adopting critical issues as their causes, expanding their range of involvement and commitment. He has been a catalyst, an enabler, and a role model who has caused others to get involved and to assume positions of leadership."

Thank you, Mr. Van Lee, for your sustained service and contributions to the Arts and our youth.

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Staff

Catherine Gamon delivers opening remarks at the 2016 MIT Sloan Excellence in Teaching Awards Luncheon. Photo: Amy MacMillan Bankson


Catherine Gamon, Sloan, Director, Student Life for Master's Programs

“Over the past year, Catherine Gamon has been a true champion of diversity at MIT Sloan," a nominator wrote, and has held "an informal leadership position, as well as aided the 'department' in our efforts to increase the diversity pipeline at Sloan. Under her leadership, the SLO has supported several student-led efforts (Diversity Days, Ask-Me-Anything) aimed at increasing awareness of issues of equity and inclusion; which are valuable to me as a student of color”.

Another nominator wrote: “Catherine has been an incredible partner to the MIT Sloan Senate (student government) and helped to organize and execute a number of impactful initiatives focused on diversity & inclusion and community-building."

In addition to the above contributions, Catherine has been supporting the faculty working group on reviewing unconscious bias training options across the Institute. She has also created a newsletter for allies and has supported important programming at Sloan by affinity groups such as the Black Business Students Association, the Hispanic Business Club, the African Business Club, and the LGBTQ Club.

Catherine wants to make sure that her students do not just survive the rigors of business school but are equipped with the tools necessary to thrive in the increasingly global business world once they leave the safety of Sloan’s walls.

Let’s congratulate Catherine for her untiring service to provide a community of inclusiveness, support, wellness and love.

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Staff

Maryanne Kirkbride, MIT Medical, Clinical Director for Campus Life

Maryanne’s impact is at once enduring and immediate. One need look no further than the streams of communication she maintains with students long gone from the halls of MIT to see how deeply personally she commits to the wellbeing and care for her community. As the Clinical Director for Campus Life, Maryanne is responsible for advancing our community through ensuring its physical and emotional wellbeing, a charge she accomplishes daily.

One of the largest contributions Maryanne has given our community is a dedicated professional ambulance service. Since 2001, she has mentored students and staff through the development and acquisition phases, integration and legal compliance and training. MIT EMS, which saves MIT hundreds of thousands of dollars in transport fees each year, has been cited as a national example to other universities by the National Collegiate EMS Foundation. Working closely with the City of Cambridge, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, MIT, and Boston, Maryanne has creatively advanced the mission of her job through this student-run organization. Students know her as an advocate who will always have their back, even when that means telling them what they didn’t want to hear. She is a defender for her subordinates and peers, and an advocate of her superiors. She builds bridges where others have only seen the gaps.

Maryanne Kirkbride is a champion of our community and its shared values, and it’s our honor to recognize her efforts.


WATCH: SustainabilityConnect 2016- Campus Resiliency through Community Design Panel 1

Members of the Campus Resiliency through Community Design panel: (left to right) Julie Newman, Maryanne Kirkbride, Brent Ryan, and Lawrence Susskind. Photo: Ken Richardson Photography, 2016

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Graduate

Michael John Beautyman, School of Engineering, MIT-EMS Director of Ambulance Operations

For those less familiar with MIT EMS, it’s an entirely volunteer service that performs the same functions as the other paid ambulances in the area. However, most of its members are also MIT students who dedicate their often limited time to serving the members of our community.

Michael is no exception. While devoting his days to his graduate work in Course 2N (Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) and his nights and weekends to staffing the MIT ambulance and community events, he also serves as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. Michael is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, a qualified Surface Warfare Officer and Dive Officer, and a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician.

Under his leadership, MIT’s emergency medical services enhanced significantly on multiple fronts: closer working relationship with the Cambridge Fire Department, Boston EMS, and Professional Ambulance, leading to better coordination in emergency response; improvement of incident report tracking and resolution, leading to efficient maintenance actions and mission readiness; improvement of external training opportunities, leading to a cadre of more experienced providers. As one outcome of this work, MIT EMS now host joint outreach events such as a frequent event between Professional Ambulance Service, MIT EMS, and Save a Life, Save a Heart (SALSAH), another community organization which Michael is actively involved in, to teach free, hands-only CPR to the community.

Additionally, thanks in part to Michael’s efforts on the MIT EMS Executive Committee, MIT EMS members now attend training events with these other organizations, and our members now ride along with crews at Cambridge fire to meet and learn from each other.

Sgt. Turco of the MIT Police wrote: “When I first became the community policing sergeant, I kept receiving emails from some kid named Michael. He was really interested in making sure the relationship between the MIT Police and MIT EMS remained strong. And he was determined to maintain and strengthen this relationship. In the fall of 2015 we had our first MIT Police/EMS barbecue in the parking lot of the police station. Michael even spent time at homemaking a cornhole set that depicted the badges of the MIT Police and MIT EMS. The barbecue is now an annual event and the cornhole boards come out whenever possible. Michael Beautyman has been a wonderful asset to the MIT Community and, as a police officer, it is an honor to know someone so genuine, kind, and committed to service. Let’s give him crisp salute on all his efforts across the MIT and Greater Boston community."

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Undergraduate

Photo: DAPER

Tremaan Robbins, Year 4, Mechanical Engineering

Tremaan, currently a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, set an important precedent for individual protest, by kneeling during the national anthem with the MIT Football Team. As one of the four Black members of the team, he courageously stepped up to his coach, telling him he felt uncomfortable with police brutality nationally and decided to follow the example of many in the National Football League. Robbins stood strong in his principles, despite the possible ostracizing by his teammates and reduction of playing time by his coach.

Later, with the support of his coach and others at MIT, Tremaan led the development of a pilot program to openly discuss social issues (including police brutality) with his teammates and training to consciously consider the identities and struggles of the marginalized groups at MIT and in the US. This will in return produce more socially-aware student leadership across the Institute.

Tremaan has demonstrated integrity in controversial situations, innovative program development, and establishment of a sustainable foundation for Chocolate City. He led a ten-person committee through the arduous process of reforming and codifying our community values, in addition to working with the Student Activities office to on options for turnover, officer duties and disciplinary actions. Robbins’ foresight produced a sustainable leadership model for Chocolate City in addition to a new Constitution.

Much like Dr. King’s effect on the world, Tremaan will leave an indelible mark on MIT through his social awareness seminar with MIT athletics and as an impactful leader in the community.


 

Rasheed Auguste on Instagram 2/16/17: "When you [Rasheed Auguste '17] and best friend [Tremaan Robbins '17] win the MIT MLK Award two years in a row...Black Excellence; Truly Yours #thatsmybestfriend — at Chocolate City at MIT." Photo: Rasheed Auguste '17

 


READ: MIT Football tackles diversity and inclusion conversations: Players’ protest begins wave of discussion, MIT News, 4 November 2016

The 2016 MIT Engineers. Photo: DAPER

MLK LEADERSHIP AWARD: Group

 

The MIT Muslim Students' Association's vision is to "grow and cultivate the Muslim leaders of the US and the world who can leverage science, engineering, innovation and technology to advance humanity”. MSA does this by its mission of “growing the Muslim community within and beyond MIT, spiritually, professionally, academically and socially, while collaborating with and growing the broader MIT community at large.” To achieve this mission, MSA values inclusiveness, growth, service, engagement and unity.

Every year, MIT MSA puts together over 200 events, gatherings and programs with an executive team of 20-30 members for the Muslim community at MIT that represent a few dozen of nationalities, languages and ethnicities. As a nominator wrote, “As an Executive MBA student who is much older than most of the students in the group, I have never felt awkward or out of place. The members have even generously hosted me for one evening and offered to let me stay with them if the need ever arises. I am extremely proud of this amazing group of people and the community they have built and maintained over the years!”

Another wrote: “In the time being, it is not very easy to be a Muslim, let alone an active proud one. The MSA stands to create a community among Muslims where Muslim students can be sure of their identity as Americans and Muslims, unapologetically. To feel that there is a place at MIT that fosters spiritual, social and personal growth for Muslims to feel proud of who they are and to see an opportunity to give to the world around them. Between organizing events, vigils, interfaith programs, charity work with other communities at MIT, and coming together with other minority groups all while excelling academically, members of the MIT MSA has shown their ability to handle tough times with dignity and courage. They remained focused on the bigger picture and on the good work that needs to be done and were not distracted by the difficulties of the times we live in. They are an example of hope, strength and inclusion for many communities within the MIT”.

Thank you, MSA, for your longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion for all.


Quinton McArthur (center), Assoc. Dir. of MIT Admissions, with MSA members Nour and Iman at an MSA Faculty and Administration Dinner for Ramadan in 2008. Photo: Quinton McArthur


Being Muslim in America (and MIT) in 2016 from MIT CMS/Writing on Vimeo.

Last December, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. In March, he added that “I think Islam hates us.” Cambridge City Councilman Nadeem Mazen and Wise Systems co-founder Layla Shaikley–both MIT alumni–join engineering masters student Abubakar Abid to explore how this type of hateful, discriminatory rhetoric influences public opinion, discuss its impact on the daily lives of Muslim-Americans, and examine strategies for combating it.

Layle Shaikley is an MIT alum, co-founder of Wise Systems and co-founder of TEDxBaghdad. With her viral video sensation “Muslim Hipsters: #mipsterz,” she helped launch a national conversation about how Muslim women are represented.

Abubakar Abid is a engineering masters student at MIT and a member of the Muslim Student Association.

Hisham Bedri is an MIT graduate who studied new imaging technologies and their implications on privacy.

Moderator: Seth Mnookin, associate director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing and director of the MIT Communications Forum.

IAP MLK Design Seminar

MORE TO COME

MC^2: 11th Annual Multicultural Conference

This recent election has caused a lot of division in our nation. As we look to heal and move forward, we need to be hopeful in our ability to affect change and have the necessary tools to do it effectively. Join us for a weekend full of team building activities, engaging workshops, and a chance to work together with your MIT peers to affect positive change in the community.

 


Aerospace engineer Aprille Joy Ericsson ’86, a mission manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and an alumna of MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, recalled Wednesday how a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. affected a Hollywood actress’s career decision — and in turn helped to inspire Ericsson and many others of her generation to enter the world of aerospace engineering.

Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek series, was not under contract, Ericsson explained in her keynote talk at MIT’s 43rd annual celebration of King’s life and work. “King shared with her that Star Trek was one of the few TV shows he would let his children watch, primarily because of her role as chief technical officer on the Starship Enterprise,” which was so different than most portrayals of African-American women on television. After her conversation with King, Nichols reconsidered her plans to leave the show. She went on to provide a role model that Ericsson said helped propel her and many others into a career in the space program.

“Space travel has become a routine part of our daily lives,” though it remains a dangerous occupation, Ericsson said. Recalling the daring commitment that President John F. Kennedy made, launching the U.S. toward landing on the moon, “I believe that challenge is before us again,” she said.

Ericsson graduated from MIT just four months after the first space shuttle disaster, the Challenger accident in 1986. She earned her doctorate at Howard University and soon after went to work for NASA. “I followed my dream to explore space,” she says. But that road was not without its obstacles. “Discrimination affects us all,” she said. And yet, “inclusion of women and minorities” in working teams of all kinds, “is imperative. When I work with science and engineering teams, I know that each one on that team is important.”

“We scientists are agents of change,” she said. “Let’s embrace [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry’s vision of diversity in space. We must work together across the differences of skin color, gender, and religion. … We are making this journey together, in a drive to make this world a better place.”

Ericsson suggested that people should think of their lives as if they were governed by an imaginary bank, which each day credits us with 86,400 seconds, or one day’s worth — but wipes out the balance at the end of the day. Make use of that time, and remember that it’s fleeting, she said: “I say, invest it! Please make the most of today and every day.”

“We’re all capable of making an impact,” she said, quoting King’s statement: “The time is always right to do what’s right.”

MIT President L. Rafael Reif, speaking to the MLK celebration audience, described a number of steps the Institute has taken in the last year to “make our community stronger and more inclusive.” These include the creation of a new Academic Council Working Group on Community, the recruitment of new specialists in multicultural mental health care, new sessions on diversity added to undergraduate orientation, and an increase of more than 10 percent in student aid.

“We live in a moment when some fundamental assumptions seem to be in question — about how we should conduct ourselves as individuals and as a society,” he said. Given that, he said, it’s worth reiterating some “unwritten rules” that govern life in the MIT community.

“At MIT, when our community is at its best, racism, bigotry, and discrimination are out of bounds, period. Diminishing or excluding others because of their identity — whether race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, social class, nationality, or any other aspect — is unthinkable and unacceptable,” he said.

He added that “It's also out of the question to bully others, period. Such behavior is simply beneath us — because we value each other as members of our community and respect each other as fellow human beings. Intellectually, we are a community where prejudice — prejudging — is anathema. In the MIT community I love, our personal interactions benefit when we behave as we do in our intellectual work: Assume less and ask more, to learn more. Refrain from jumping to conclusions on superficial evidence. And listen as closely and as much as we can.”

Reif said that “when people of many backgrounds work together to address big human challenges — whether it’s climate change or fresh water access or Alzheimer’s — they come to value each other as human beings, united in a struggle larger than themselves.”

Reflecting on the deep divisions facing this country today, Reif added that “The coming months and years may put great pressure on us as a community. Whatever we face together, it is of the utmost importance that MIT remains a place that can endure, and grow from, the challenge of dissenting views — a community that makes room for us all.”

The event also featured reflections on King’s legacy by senior Rasheed Auguste and graduate student Faye-Marie Vassel. Auguste described a three-step process for addressing injustice in the world. Step one is recognizing a particular injustice that troubles you, he said. For example, “2016 was especially difficult for a lot of people.” After the election, “the weight of hateful rhetoric and injustice took its toll. … Regardless of political position, my MIT needed healing and support on Nov. 9. … It hurts to see people you know suffer and not being able to tell them ‘It’ll be okay.’ Because even though it may be reassuring, it might not be true.”

The second step, he said, is to “find a community of change-makers. Chances are, your issue is not as unique as you think. You are not, and have never been alone in your pain.” He went on to describe his meetings with MIT leadership in seeking ways to improve the inclusiveness of the Institute — as a result of which, he said “I felt empowered in the process, like I had a valued contribution to making our ideas, our compromises, our solutions, real.”

The final step, Auguste said, is to carry out the list of actions developed in step two. “Step three is putting in the work to make the justice a reality. … This amazing mentality exists at MIT: If you want something, go chase it. And if it doesn’t exist yet, then make it. People really live by this. So if you want justice, you have to chase it, to fight for it. You cannot settle for ambivalence, indifference, or passivity.”

Vassel, a doctoral student in biology, described some of the challenges of her own background, as the product of an interracial immigrant couple. (Her mother is a Russian from Uzbekistan and her father is Afro-Caribbean from Jamaica.) “Education in this country is still not equal and just for all.” She added, “I hope we all see the dangers of any political message that relies on dividing people. Quoting Dr. King, she said, "Injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. ... Always remember to lift your voice!”

The MLK celebration also included the presentation of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards, which were given to Michael Beautyman, Catherine Gamon, Maryanne Kirkbride, Kristala Prather, Tremaan Robbins, Reginald Van Lee, and the Muslim Student Association.

MIT Video Productions

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