Early MLK Exhibits
In April of 1968, MIT cancelled classes to join the nation in mourning the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. His death directly led to the formation of the MIT Black Students’ Union, as well as Interphase, a summer program that to the day prepares incoming students for the rigors of MIT.
MIT began its annual commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1975, seven years after his assassination. The yearly memorial activities feature a march, a breakfast, and Dr. King-inspired lectures on campus by prominent speakers from across the disciplines, including Coretta Scott King in 1994.
Martin Luther King Day became a designated Institute holiday in 1976, a decade before its first official observance as a federal holiday.
Edited by Clarence G. Williams
MIT Press, 1996
Bringing together speeches given at the Institute's annual King Day convocation, this book celebrates two decades of commitment by MIT to honoring the honoring the memory and furthering the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. In reading these speeches, one catches in reflection twenty years of turmoil and change, some positive (including an increasing number of speakers drawn from the ranks of MIT's African American alumni/ae) but much negative, in which Dr King's dream has been a continuing beacon for action. Speakers have included leaders who are prominent both nationally and in the local (Boston/Cambridge) community, in accordance with Dr. King’s dual emphasis on global and local issues. The book closes with Coretta Scott King’s twentieth-anniversary address in 1994.
MIT MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars Program
The annual MLK Celebration's public events and lectures paved the way for bringing several visiting professors across disciplines to campus each academic year under the MIT Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar Program.
In 1988, MIT appointed a committee chaired by Professor Michael Feld of the Physics Department (NASA astronaut Ronald E. McNair‘s PhD advisor and mentor). The Institute Committee was charged with considering how MIT could further call community attention to Dr. King’s life, work, and contributions. Among the committee’s recommendations were the establishment of the MLK Visiting Scholars program in 1991 and its expansion, the MLK Visiting Professors program, in 1995. Since then, the MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars Program has enriched the intellectual life of MIT.
The first ever appointed Visiting Scholar was Henry C. McBay, a retired professor of chemistry at Morehouse College, Dr. King’s alma mater. His dedicated service to the fields of chemistry and teaching included developing a treatment for prostate cancer and advancing a chemistry education program in Liberia on behalf of UNESCO in 1951.
The four inaugural Visiting Professors appointed in 1995 were: Wesley Harris (aeronautics and astronautics), Richard Joseph (political science), Steven Lee (mathematics), and Oliver McGee (civil and environmental engineering).
Edited by William M. Jackson and Billy Joe Evans
MIT Press, 1994
Proceedings of a symposium honoring Henry C. McBay as the Institute's first MLK Scholar. The volume opens with a biographical chapter by science historian and MIT professor Kenneth R. Manning. Appendices include a list of Dr. McBay's publications and of chemistry majors under him who went on to earn doctoral and medical degrees.
MLK Design Seminar
Since 1991, the MLK Design Seminar has brought MIT and Wellesley students together each January, during the Institute's Independent Activities Period (IAP), to create artistic and political campus installations to coincide with the Institute commemorations.
In the seminar taught by Tobie Weiner (Course 17.922), students develop an in-depth understanding of the history of US racial issues, as well as past and present domestic and international political struggles. Then groups work to complete installations and other projects that connect academics with real-life problems and struggle.
MLK Leadership Awards
Beginning in 1995, MIT has awarded annual MLK Leadership Awards to students, alumni, staff, groups and faculty who embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work. “Service to the community” is defined in the broadest sense and includes academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent.