If love were against the law, would you be guilty?

ETTO OTTITGBE '99- at the 1997 MLK Breakfast

1997   23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration


KING Jr., Martin Luther. Strength to Love. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper & Row, (1963). Octavo, original half black cloth gilt, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box. [Bauman Rare Books]

"If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is Strength to Love," wrote Coretta Scott King. "I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.' s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life."

In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jails and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint today for Christian discipleship as it was then.


The Strength to Love: Facing the Crisis of the Underclass


Elaine R. Jones
Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund ​


Sylvester James Gates, Jr. '73, PhD '77
Professor of Physics, University of Maryland

Myra Rodrigues
Retired Social Worker, MIT Medical Department

MIT Committee on Campus Race Relations


8th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Conference:
Building Bridges for Youth to the Future


Semenya McCord Group
Jazz Vocalist
"Journey Into a Dream"


Elaine JonesMIT News Office [excerpt]
January 8, 1997

Elaine R. Jones is the first female director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and only the fourth director in the LDF's 56-year history.

Ms. Jones joined the LDF after she graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1970, declining an offer to join a prestigious New York firm. "Money wasn't the reason I chose the law," she said. "I went to law school to use the law to serve people." She has headed the LDF since 1993.

The LDF, under the direction of its first director-counsel Thurgood Marshall, litigated Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., the 1954 case in which the US Supreme Court ruled that legally segregated public schools are unconstitutional. The tradition of using the legal system to fight economic and racial injustice continues under Ms. Jones' leadership.

Noting that the LDF had represented white persons as well as African-Americans, among them a woman fired because she had reached age 62, Ms. Jones said, "It's the issues that move us toward equality, not the race of the plaintiff."

A native of Norfolk, VA, Ms. Jones joined the Peace Corps upon graduation from Howard University in 1968 and served in Turkey. When she returned, she became the first African-American woman to attend the University of Virginia Law School.

In 1972, only two years out of law school, she was the attorney of record in Furman v. Georgia, a landmark case before the US Supreme Court that led to abolition of the death penalty in 37 states. She also argued numerous employment discrimination cases.

From 1975-77, Ms. Jones was a special assistant to US Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman Jr., who is now LDF chairman. When she returned to LDF in 1977, she originated the position of federal legislative advocate and played a key role in securing passage of the Voting Rights Act Amendment in 1982, the Fair Housing Act in 1988, the Civil Rights Act of 1988 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.


ALSO SEE: "City welcomes Jones," MIT News, 29 Jan 1997 


sjgates-370Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. '73, PhD '77 earned SB degrees in Physics and in Mathematics (1973) and a PhD in Physics (1977) from MIT, where his doctoral dissertation--“Symmetry Principles in Selected Problems of Field Theory”-- was the first devoted to "supersymmetry". (While in graduate school, he tried out to be an astronaut and was friends with the late Ronald E. McNair). Dr. Gates went on to focus on string theory, an extemely mathematical view of physics, joining relativity and quantum mechanics.

His postgraduate studies began as a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (1977-1980) and ended with an appointment at Caltech (1980-1982). His teaching career started in 1972, as a summer calculus instructor at MIT, and he has since taught mathematics or physics without interruption. From 1982 to 1984, he served as an assistant professor at MIT.  Since 1984, Dr. Gates has been on faculty at the University of Maryland at College Park. On a leave of absence from 1991-1993, he served as Physics Professor and Departmental Chair at Howard University.

RECENT: 2010-2011 MLK Visiting Professor


Myra Rodrigues worked at MIT for 25 years before retiring in July [1996]. She provided a range of social work services for the entire MIT community and was the co-leader of separate discussion groups for male and female minority students.

"Never have I known a person whose life-her everyday conduct-so exemplified the principles and values that one associates with Dr. King," wrote Ron Fleming, chief of social work services, in nominating Ms. Rodrigues for the award. [MIT News, 15 Jan 1997]

"It should be mentioned that the loss to the Service of Myra Rodrigues and Jackie Buck to the early retirement program leaves an enormous void, for these two individuals have served the Institute for a total of 56 years. Both have been especially sensitive to the needs of families, student families, foreign students, and their families, minority students and staff, as well as other members of the community. Their loss will be deeply felt by many within the Department and throughout the MIT community." [MIT Medical Department Report to the President, 1995-96]

Member, Quarter Century Club as of March 1996


The MLK Leadership Award for organizations went to the then-MIT Committee on Campus Race Relations. The committee was appointed in 1994 by MIT President Charles Vest “to catalyze activities, develop and distribute information on programs and resources, and administer a modest grants program to support projects proposed by members of the MIT community – with the goal of enhancing multicultural understanding and collegial race relations on campus.”

The Committee on Campus Race Relations was charged with fostering better relations among the races of people at MIT and helping the community realize the benefits of its cultural and racial diversity. Members were appointed from the senior administration, faculty, staff, and student body and include people with different racial and cultural backgrounds. Members worked closely with the various racial and ethnic groups. The committee had several responsibilities, including coordinating a systematic action agenda for improving race relations on campus, developing and distributing relevant resource guides, and administering a modest grants program to support projects and activities that promote multicultural understanding and positive race relations.

Coretta Scott King, addressing MIT's 20th annual celebration of her husband's life and legacy, commended MIT for announcing the establishment of a campus race-relations committee.

In the spring of 1996, the Committee on Campus Race Relations took responsibility for preparing, funding, and producing the fifth videotape in the It’s Intuitively Obvious series. The eigth-volume series captures students of different racial backgrounds discussing issues of race on the MIT campus.  READ MORE

MIT News Office