Margaret A. Burnham: "The Dream and the Reality" - 18th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration (1992)

The 18th annual [MIT Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] celebration held on Jan. 17, 1992 featured the Honorable Margaret A. Burnham as keynote speaker [with MIT President Charles Vest's introduction starting at 41:07] on the theme, “The Dream and the Reality.” Hon. Burnham, a renowned civil and human rights attorney and the first African-American woman to serve in the Massachusetts judiciary, was teaching at the MIT Department of Political Science and in the Program on Women’s Studies at the time of her keynote address. She is currently Professor of Law at Northeastern University.

MIT Infinite History


Burnham began her career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, litigating school-desegregation cases. In 1978, she was appointed an associate justice of the Boston Municipal Court, and in 1989 returned to law practice as a founding partner of Boston's first law firm headed by African-American women. In 1992, South African President Nelson Mandela asked Burnham to serve on a commission to investigate human-rights violations committed by his African National Congress party. Professor Burnham's fields of expertise include civil rights, human rights, and employment. She has held fellowships at Harvard's DuBois Institute and Radcliffe College's Bunting Institute. She has taught at MIT — where, among other things, she supervised our seminar on political prisoners. She has also taught at Boston College Law School and Brandeis University. At Northeastern, she now teaches Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, and Federal Courts and the Federal System.

MIT Western Hemisphere Project



Timeline: 1990s
School: School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department: HumanitiesPolitical Science
Career: CommunityEducationGovernment & Law
Object: Video
Collection: Activism, Africa(n), Faculty, Integration and Differentiation 1969-1994, Keynotes, Martin Luther King, Jr., Women