2013 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
Illuminating the Elements of Meritocracy
Chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles Sparks, a professional team of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
MLK Leadership Awardees
On Feb. 6, the MIT women’s basketball team had the opportunity to meet with Paula Madison, chairman and CEO of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and a member of the WNBA Board of Governors. A former executive vice president at NBC, Madison served as the keynote speaker at MIT’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration.
During Madison’s lunch with the team, they discussed how as young girls they were encouraged to participate in sports and brainstormed ideas about how to increase the population of young female athletes, in addition to retaining them at the high school and college levels. On the academic side, they talked about how women in sports face similar difficulties as women in engineering.
At MIT’s 39th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration this morning, members of the Institute community gathered to hear inspiring talks by student leaders; the announcement of this year’s roster of MLK Leadership Award recipients and MLK visiting scholars and professors; rousing musical interludes by the MIT Gospel Choir; and a keynote address by former NBC executive vice president Paula Madison.
Annual MLK exhibits opens
Bruno B. F. Faviero, The Tech
February 5, 2013
Tonight marks the opening of the Lobby 10 installation from the Martin Luther King Jr. Design Seminar (17.920), an IAP course where students learned about the Civil Rights Movement and discussed topics like race and identity. The installation will be up until the night of Jan. 14.
The course culminates with display installations made by the students, which this year will tentatively include a map of global issues, a tribute to the black panther party, and a large collage of people from civil rights leaders to MIT students. Many of the installations are interactive in some way, including a jukebox with freedom songs from the 1950s.
Megan E. Bumgarner ’14 worked on a group installation, which consists of two chairs: a “weaker,” divided black and white chair, and a sturdier, checkered chair, which shows “integration as being more stable.”
The class’s instructor, Undergraduate Administrator Tobie Weiner, said that the number of students enrolled in the class has increased every year, and even includes 10 Wellesley students, who made an installation for their campus.
Weiner worries the exhibit might be vandalized as in the past. “I used to think about [vandalism] when we had really controversial things,” said Weiner, “but oddly it seems like the stupidest things are vandalized.” In past years, vandals have switched an Abraham Lincoln cutout with one of Steve Irwin and removed an entire display about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Weiner said she doesn’t know if there will be cameras again this year to guard the exhibit as there have been in some years.
50th Anniversary: March on Washington
William and Wesley Harris [1995-96 MLK Visiting Professor, 2001 MLK Leadership Awardee, 2014 Celebration Lifetime Achievement Awardee], twin brothers, were born in 1941 into a poor, African American household and community in Richmond, Virginia. They were nine years old when a heart attack claimed their father’s life, leaving their mother—a domestic worker and seamstress—to rear the boys and their three older siblings. They had few economic resources and spent their childhoods in the shadow of Jim Crow repression.
These boys—my father William and his brother Wesley—became extraordinary men. After graduating from Richmond’s segregated Armstrong High School in 1960, they became the first in the family to attend college.
In August of 1963, as rising seniors at their respective universities, my dad and my uncle came together to join the hundreds of thousands gathered on the National Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In advance of today’s 50th anniversary, I spoke with them about the months leading up to the march and their experiences on that day. Excerpts from our conversation are below.