We used to talk about being in the back of the bus. Today the real question is, do you have bus fare?

JULIANNE MALVEAUX- Economist and Columnist

2004   30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration


Rhetoric or Reality: Civil Rights Under Siege


Julianne M. Malveaux PhD '80
Economist, Author and Syndicated Columnist


J. Phillip Thompson
Associate Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP)
2000-02 MLK Visiting Professor, DUSP

Blanche E. Staton
MIT Associate Dean for Graduate Students

LaRuth C. McAfee PhD '05
Chemical Engineering

Salvatore J. Molica '75
Medical Director, Codman Square Health Center


IAP MLK Design Seminar
"Perspectives on Diversity"


Julianne Malveaux speaks at the 30th annual Martin Luther King breakfast. Photo: Donna Coveney, MIT News, 2004

Julianne Malveaux speaks at the 30th annual Martin Luther King breakfast. Photo: Donna Coveney, MIT News, 2004

Alumna Julianne M. Malveaux (Ph.D. 1980), economist, author and syndicated columnist writes monthly for USA Today and Black Issues in Higher Education and a weekly column that appears in more than 20 newspapers. She is also a frequent contributor to national magazines including Essence, Ms., Crisis, Emerge, Black Enterprise and The Progressive.

She was the co-editor of Slipping Through The Cracks: The Status of Black Women and authored Sex, Lies, and Stereotypes: Perspectives of a Mad Economist, an anthology of her newspaper columns. Another collection of her columns titled Wall Street, Main Street, and the Side Street: A Mad Economist Takes A Stroll was published in January 1999.

Malveaux, who holds a B.A. and M.A. in economics from Boston College in addition to her doctorate from MIT, has taught at Notre Dame, the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University.

A past president of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, she chairs the board of directors of the National Child Labor Committee, serves on the boards of the Center for Policy Alternatives and the Economic Policy Institute and worked on staff at the Council of Economic Advisors, the Rockefeller Foundation, the New School for Social Research University and San Francisco State University.

She has been affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Research on Women and Gender at Stanford (1987-89) and was a consultant to the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Malveaux is president and CEO of Last Word Productions Inc., which has produced a public affairs radio show and television show for PBS. She also has been the editor-in-chief for the National Council of Negro Women's compendium "Voices of Vision: African American Women on the Issues."

MIT News, 19 Nov 2003


pthompson-370J. Phillip Thompson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). He was recognized with a faculty MLK Leadership Award for his important intellectual contributions on the themes of social capital, health and racial ideology.

Prof. Thompson came to MIT in 2000 as an MLK Scholar and joined the faculty of DUSP in 2002 as associate professor of urban politics and community development.

He received a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University in 1977, a M.U.P. from Hunter College in 1986, and a PhD. in Political Science from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 1990.

Prof. Thompson worked as Deputy General Manager of the New York Housing Authority, and as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Coordination. He is a frequent advisor to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States.

His most recent academic work includes a 2004 review of public health interventions in poor black communities (written with Arline Geronimus) published in the Du Bois Review, entitled “To Denigrate, Ignore, or Disrupt: The Health Impact of Policy-induced Breakdown of Urban African American Communities of Support,” an article entitled “Judging Mayors” in the June 2005 issue of Perspectives on Politics, and Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Prof. Thompson has taught at Columbia, Barnard, Yale University and CUNY, and is a senior policy advisor to PolicyLink, a think tank that links research and policy development with a network of 150 community organizations.

At MIT, Prof. Thompson worked closely with the development of the department's Practica subjects, which engage MIT students and faculty in assisting distressed communities.

"He addressed the issues of race, class and power in ways that have energized and galvanized the diverse student body in DUSP," wrote Professor Lawrence Vale, head of DUSP, and Carolyn Makinson, executive director of the Center for International Studies, in their nomination letter.

"Phil was instrumental in linking students to the real world of race and politics and elevating the dialogue with his extraordinary intellectual breadth and his ability to engage outside speakers in a way that was provocative but never contentious," Vale and Makinson wrote.

Source: MIT News, 26 Jan 2004

READ MORE: J. Phillip Thompson as 2000-02 MLK Visiting Associate Professor in MIT DUSP



Blanche-statonBlanche E. Staton has been associate dean for graduate students since 1997. She initiated MIT's participation in the MentorNet program, which offers electronic mentoring for women students in engineering and science. Staton initiated an Institute-wide program to honor minority administrators, supported creation of the Women's Book Club as a community-building activity for women graduate students, and led development of a pilot leadership program for graduate students.

"Perhaps what students most appreciate is her ability to listen patiently and sympathetically and be a soothing and calming mentor even under difficult circumstances," said the four community members who nominated Staton, who also is president of the board of the Cambridge Community Center.

MIT News, 26 Jan 2004

Photo credit: L. Barry Hetherington

MIT150 Profiles

Mentor to Thousands
December 28, 2010

“I feel like I’m working with superheroes here because the students have so much passion and energy,” Blanche Staton says. “They make me feel good about coming to work.” Mentoring and nurturing graduate students is a favorite part of Blanche’s job as senior associate dean in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education.

Blanche came to MIT in 1997 from Penn State University, where she directed recruitment and admissions for one of three regional undergraduate offices, and she previously worked in similar graduate-level positions at the University of Pennsylvania and the Temple University School of Medicine. At MIT she found “a community of colleagues who are warm and welcoming.” She had planned to stay for three years, but after 13 years at MIT she confirms, “It feels like the right place for me.”




laruth-mcafee-mlk-award_2004LaRuth C. McAfee PhD '05, a graduate student in chemical engineering, is treasurer of the Graduate Student Council and chair of its Funding Board. While serving as chair of the GSC's Orientation Committee, she put together a graduate student volunteer day which is now a regular part of orientation. She is co-chair of the Black Graduate Students Association and received a grant from the GSC Student Life program to encourage collaboration among student groups. In addition to her work on campus, McAfee tutors children in math and science on Saturday mornings in a Cambridge church. She was nominated by fellow student council member Emily Snyder, who wrote, "LaRuth exudes leadership qualities."

MIT News, 26 Jan 2004

Graduate student LaRuth McAfee at the ISN’s small-angle X-ray scattering system. Source: Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) MIT Report to the President, 2004

Graduate student LaRuth McAfee at the ISN’s
small-angle X-ray scattering system. Source: Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) MIT Report to the President, 2004



salvatore-molica-mlk-awardSalvatore Molica, who earned the S.B. in biology from MIT in 1975, is being honored for his commitment to public health and family medicine. As medical director of the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, he helped establish outreach programs that now serve as national models for the innovative engagement of health care professionals in their communities. Larry Culpepper, chair of the Family Medicine Department at Boston University School of Medicine, describes the programs created by Molica as "models of the integration of primary care and public health in supporting the rebuilding of high-risk urban regions."

MIT News, 26 Jan 2004


Molica_Salvatore2Molica, Salvatore Jr., M.D., M.P.H.

Family Medicine

Education: Medical School: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (1983), Residency: Brown University (1986), Fellowship: Community-Oriented Primary Care Carney Hospital (1992), MPH: Boston University (1993)

Languages: English, Haitian Creole

Biography: Dr. Molica has been with the Codman Square Health Center since 1987, and served as Medical Director from 1992-1998. Since 1992, he has also served as a Clinical Professor at Boston University. Dr. Molica spent a year serving as a primary care physician in Haiti, and is especially interested in cross-cultural medicine. In his free time he enjoys hiking, backpacking, and skiing.


MLK IAP Design Seminar

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MIT President's Remarks

02/05/2004 7:30 AM Walker
Charles Vest, President, MIT

Description: MIT President Charles Vest provides a critical perspective on the unsteady progress of racial diversity at the university. "As the summit of the mountain we're climbing has begun to come into distant view, the slope gets steeper and others are strewing rocks in our path," says Vest. The raw statistics since his arrival in 1990 are reason for some encouragement, with steadily improving enrollment of women undergraduates and graduate students. Yet while underrepresented minorities add up to 20% of all undergraduates, they number just 4.5% of graduate students and 4% of the faculty. Vest points to "a mean-spiritedness abroad in the land, given voice and power by people who don't agree with the goal (of diversity) let alone how to reach it." Vest worries about new legal challenges to programs that draw minorities to careers in science and engineering, and about national security policies that discourage foreign scholars from applying to MIT. "The modest gains made in the last decade are fragile," he warns, and "we must work together to open opportunities and careers in science and engineering to anybody who has a desire to pursue the path."

About the Speaker: Dr. Charles M. Vest is the fifteenth President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his 14 years at MIT, he has placed special emphasis on enhancing undergraduate education, exploring new organizational forms to meet emerging directions in research and education, building a stronger international dimension into education and research programs, developing stronger relations with industry, and enhancing racial and cultural diversity. He also has devoted considerable energy to bringing issues concerning education and research to broader public attention and to strengthening national policy on science, engineering and education. In this latter capacity, Vest chaired the President's Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station and has served as a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Economic Growth and Technology, and the National Research Council Board on Engineering Education. In February 2004, he was asked by President Bush to serve as a member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Vest earned his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1963 and both his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1967, respectively. A member of the Mechanical Engineering faculty at MIT, Dr. Vest's research interests are in the thermal sciences and in the engineering applications of lasers and coherent optics.

In December 2003, Vest announced his decision to step down from the presidency of MIT.

Challenges Past, Present, and Future

Excerpts from President Charles M. Vest's remarks at MIT's 30th annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., February 5, 2004.

© Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004. To reprint or excerpt for publication, please contact Laura Mersky at mersk@mit.edu.

Readers Survey

Thirty years. We have been holding this celebration at MIT for 30 years. That’s a large chunk of our history.

And for 14 of those years, Becky and I have had the honor of hosting it. It has become, for us, as for the entire community, a warm, important, moment in the annual cycle of our university—and a powerful reminder of some of our deepest values and most important responsibilities.

We have met and listened to important teachers of America’s history and essence. We have been inspired and renewed. My only complaint is that for several weeks afterward I cannot get the strains of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” out of my mind!

But—as an annual event—there is a danger, and it is captured in this year’s title—“rhetoric or reality.” Annual renewal is extremely important for a long and frustrating journey, but there must be reality as well as rhetoric. Forgive me, it’s MIT: I’m going to talk about numbers—part of the reality.

So what about those 30 years?

Think about MIT in 1974 and it’s hard to imagine that we are the same place. Of course, in so many ways we are not the same today as we were then. In 1974, over 95 percent of the faculty were men, predominantly white men. Fewer than 3 percent of our faculty were African American, Hispanic, or Native American. And what did our students look like in 1974? About 12 percent of the undergraduate and graduate students were women at that time, and about 5 percent of our students (mainly undergraduates) were people of color.

When I came to MIT in 1990, things had changed quite a bit in some respects, thanks to the leadership of Paul Gray and many others. Women had moved from 12 percent to 34 percent of the undergraduate student body, and to 20 percent of the graduate students, and 10 percent of the faculty. Underrepresented minorities had moved from 5 percent to 14 percent of the undergraduates, just over 3 percent of the graduate students…but still under 3 percent of the faculty.

And what about today? In 2004, women are 42 percent of the undergraduates, nearly 29 percent of the graduate students, and just over 17 percent of the faculty. African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans add up to nearly 20 percent of the undergraduates, 4.5 percent of the graduate students, but…just over 4 percent of the faculty.

Looking back at the proportion of women and minorities in our community over thirty years, the picture is pretty clear: great progress for women undergraduates, and good progress for women in graduate programs and some progress for women on the faculty. And what about underrepresented minorities? Good progress at the undergraduate level and very little at the graduate and faculty levels.

In short, even as we move forward with building diversity and success at the undergraduate level, it is clear that improvement in undergraduate enrollment simply does not easily or automatically translate into progress at the graduate and faculty levels.

You all know that I am an optimist, however, so I can’t resist noting that while the proportions may show little growth for underrepresented minorities at the graduate and faculty levels, there has been significant growth in absolute numbers between 1990 and today: A 73% increase in the number of minority graduate students (from 163 to 282) and a 48% increase in the number of minority faculty (from 27 to 40).

And this is important, because every number represents an individual human being, whose life and contributions are precious.

Still, I have to say that the one area in which I feel that I have really not succeeded as your president is that we have not accelerated the racial diversity of our faculty or, for that matter, of our graduate students. We simply must work harder and more creatively to sustain the progress that we have made at the undergraduate level, and to improve our graduate populations and make faculty careers viable and attractive to the full spectrum of people in our society.

This imperative is made even tougher by the turn of events in the past few years. It seems that as the summit of the mountain we climb comes into distant view, the slope gets steeper and others throw rocks in our path:

• First, challenges to universities’ ability and right to select their own students according to the criteria that best support their educational mission.

• Second, challenges to our programs of outreach to younger students.

• And third, international security concerns that translate into barriers for students, faculty and other scholars who wish to come here from other countries.

Now people of good will can and do differ politically and philosophically about how to achieve the goal of a more equitable society, one in which our colleges and universities more accurately reflect the face of America. But I have to say that there is also a mean-spiritedness abroad in our land, one that is given voice and power by people who do not agree with the goal, let alone how to reach it. But the one thing we cannot do is to pretend that the goal has been met and that further explicit work is no longer needed.


When it comes to admissions, the modest gains that have been made in the last few decades are fragile. In my experience they are largely the result of specific outreach, mentoring, and constant attention to seek out, inspire, and support the best minority students. I have seen nothing in my career that suggests that eliminating targeted efforts will produce anything other than a slowing or a reversal of the gains that we have made.

When we gathered last year at this time, our ability to consider race as one of many factors in admissions was totally at risk at the Supreme Court considered the challenges to affirmative action that were raised in the lawsuits against the University of Michigan. In science and engineering, especially, where the number of students entering these fields is declining, it is more important than ever that we be able to draw on the talents of our entire population. And this still requires special efforts if we are to have that ability.

The good news on the legal front is that…we won! Last year’s Supreme Court rulings in the Michigan case were—in my view—a clear endorsement of admissions practices like those here at MIT, in which we use race as one of many factors in selecting our entering classes. When we choose each class, we first narrow the pool to those whose grades, test scores, class rank, etc. show that they have the ability to succeed here. Then we make difficult, subjective choices from among that group to select the approximately 14 percent we admit by assessing as best we can the whole person—where they come from, the challenges and opportunities they have encountered, the contributions they make to their communities and families, their zeal for learning, their creativity, their determination, and so forth. Knowing a student’s race is one of many elements that help to form our understanding.

I have no illusion that there will not be future challenges to affirmative action and other targeted efforts by colleges to admit the best classes for our programs. But I am equally confident that MIT will continue to uphold the principles in which we believe, and that have served us so well.

We can hope that Sandra Day O’Connor was right when she expressed the hope that in 25 years we would no longer need affirmative action programs, but today we still need these particular, targeted efforts if we are to reach our goals.

And make no doubt about it: we must be prepared to deal with continuing tests of our resolve – which are likely to come in the form of referenda in the states and in assaults on our programs of outreach to high school students. Indeed, some of these programs here and elsewhere already find themselves in murky political and legal waters.

Outreach Programs

In the early 1970s MIT established outreach and enrichment programs to attract young Hispanic-American, African-American, and Native-American high school students to the engineering profession—a population that did not tend to view engineering as an obvious or attractive career.

I don’t believe that we saw this task as one of political orientation or ideology. We saw it as part of our responsibility to provide all of our students with as full an educational experience as possible, as well as to help prepare a professional workforce and future leadership that reflects the face of America.

During the last two years, however, we have come up against serious legal challenges to such efforts. As most of you know, a complaint filed against us by two special interest groups caused the Office of Civil Rights to review two of our pre-college summer programs—MITE2S and Project Interphase.

These two programs have served over a thousand promising young men and women very well. In the light of these legal challenges, however, and with the best advice of every legal expert we sought out, we concluded that we should not continue to limit participation in these programs exclusively to underrepresented minority students. We broadened the selection criteria to include other students whose backgrounds may otherwise stand in the way of their studying science and engineering, and who can support the goals of the programs.

In making these changes, we will ensure that these programs continue to serve their original goal. Because hey have created inspiration and opportunity for young people of color. And they have not destroyed opportunity for any one else.

My fear, and presumably the aim of some others, is that over time, such diffusion of effort will wear down the gains that we and others have worked for so many years to establish.

These two areas of challenge—in admissions and in outreach programs to younger students— illustrate a very real dilemma: We are expected by our society, and indeed by the federal government, to advance diversity and opportunity in science and engineering. In fact, in this strange world, we are given mandates by federal funding agencies to reach out and engage minorities, women, and people with disabilities in the work of various research programs and centers, and we are expected to produce results.

But at the same time, we are warned that targeting such efforts to the specific populations we are supposed to advance—in ways that we know work—may not be acceptable under current interpretations of the law.

This ambiguity—this Catch 22—is simply bizarre. We are being told to reach an explicit goal, but not to make explicit efforts to achieve it.

International Students and Scholars

A similar dilemma can be found these days with regard to international students and scholars.

We know that in a great university in the 21st century, there are many dimensions to the diversity that enriches our lives and scholarship. The openness of U.S. research universities to students and scholars from other countries has been overwhelmingly successful in building the excellence of our institutions, enhancing the educational experience of our students, contributing to American industry and academia, and building good will for the U.S. around the world.

Here at MIT, Nobel Prize recipients include professors born in Japan, India, Mexico, Italy, and Germany, as well as in the U.S. And American industry relies greatly on engineers and computer scientists born in other countries. Most of them came here as graduate students.

There are signs, however, that responses to the legitimate heightened concerns for national security may be undermining this great source of vitality. For example:

• International students, scholars, and visitors to the U.S. are subjected to new reviews, interviews, delays, and more frequent denials of visas.

• We are seeing efforts to restrict the involvement of foreign students in some areas of study or research.

During the last year there were some improvements in process and policy, but the number of students and scholars coming to the U.S. is trending downward.

But the more important issue is whether there are any changes in the quality of international students and scholars coming to America. Will our universities continue to be magnets for the brightest students from around the world?

You may ask why bring international politics into a discussion like this, but as Dr. King said, “We all came in different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Diversity is one of this nation’s greatest strengths—and diversity by its very nature is broadly encompassing. The principles are the same. And what is happening in the name of homeland security represents one of the biggest challenges to diversity in our nation. It puts me in mind of the character in Finian’s Rainbow who said, “An immigrant! Damn! My family has had trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country!”

So I urge you to be cognizant of—and cherish—the great value to be found in the broad openness of our universities.

And yet, because of the particular history of our country, we must pay particular attention to diversity as it applies to race in America.

Filling the Academic Pipeline

The inroads made by underrepresented minorities into higher education and careers in science and engineering are fragile. They have resulted from deliberate, concerted attention and actions. We must work together to open opportunities and encourage careers in science and engineering to everyone who has the interest and ability in pursuing this path.

And our actions at the undergraduate level must be accompanied by equivalent efforts to bring greater racial and ethnic diversity to our graduate programs and our faculty. We have not succeeded there—plain and simple.

For graduate students, an immediate goal should be to increase the yield from among those graduate students whom we admit. The Graduate Student Council has presented this case in a compelling manner. Persuading more students to accept our invitation requires, above all, a personal touch.

And frankly, the same can be said of faculty recruitment. It is not enough to make an offer and simply expect that someone will jump at the chance to come to MIT. Again, it calls for someone to pick up the phone and make the case for why that person should come to MIT…and to ask what we can do to help him or her choose us. It means inviting them to meet their future colleagues and putting together start-up packages that say, “We want you here.”

Now while I do not hide behind it, the fact is that the national pool of faculty in science and engineering is woefully inadequate, so that even as we struggle to improve faculty diversity, the strategic key is to increase the graduate population in these fields around the country.
The progress we have made can be credited not so much to institutional programs—although they have their part—as to individual commitment and perseverance. Where there has been change, it has been the result of individual leadership on the part of department heads and faculty.

But to really succeed, we must go beyond developing or sustaining admissions and outreach programs for students or recruiting more faculty of color. Those are necessary steps, but they are first steps.

The Challenge Within

The real challenge does not lie outside our walls. It lies within our hearts, and in the expectations we set for our students and ourselves, in the ways we teach, in the amount of time and effort we give to supporting our students and our colleagues.

The progress that has been made has been the result of institutional programs and individual efforts in scores of ways—mentoring a junior colleague, inviting a student into a research project or a study group, providing financial support, extending a hand in friendship, taking the risk to get to know someone from a different culture or religion or race.

We have been through some difficult times on the racial front over the years—and I sometimes get discouraged that we will ever eradicate the ignorance and prejudice that keep us from being all that we can be with and for each other. But we have had some moments of which we can be proud as well. I think about the ways in which this community came together after 9/11—reaching out and supporting one another in that terrible time.

We shouldn’t need a crisis to bring us together, however. In our everyday lives we must celebrate learning about and from each other. As I said in my inaugural address some 13 years ago, “Such change is rewarding, but it is seldom easy. During the years ahead we must refuse to let the centrifugal forces of intolerance and injustice pull us apart. We must be held together by respect for the individual and by a commitment to the values we hold in common.”

That was our challenge then. That is our challenge now. Thank you—for 14 years of inspiration, challenge, and hope.

Keynote Speech

02/05/2004 7:30 AM Walker
Dr. Julianne Malveaux, PhD '80, Economist, author

Description: In this keynote address, Julianne Malveaux takes deadly aim at the hypocrisy she finds in many sectors of American society including exploitation of low wage workers and legacy admissions policies. She states: "Dr. King has become such a hero that Walmart takes out full page ads claiming that, 'We too have a dream.' A corporation that doesn't pay people reasonable wages, locks people up in a building all night...What dream?

"When Mr. Bush went to Yale and said, "You, too, can be president with a C average"...yeah, only if you have no melanin in your skin."

Malveaux sees the U.S. virtually inhaling the rest of the world's resources, treating other cultures with arrogance, and then wondering why we're the targets of terrorism. She links our nation's contempt for other countries and our historic neglect of the poor at home: "Have we learned from September 11th? 'We came together as a nation but now we're back to the old ways'. We have 10 million Americans who earn less than $5.15 an hour, who haven't had a raise since 1996".

What Dr. King was really after, insists Malveaux, was a full-fledged, "in your face" war on poverty and racism. Today, she wonders, "Who here has the audacity to change things?"