Speakers at MIT’s 40th annual MLK Breakfast honor King’s legacy

Speakers at MIT’s 40th annual MLK Breakfast honor King’s legacy

MIT News Office | February 7, 2014 | David L. Chandler

The struggle against racism is far from over, speakers say, but the issues have become subtler.

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

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.

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.”

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