The Dream Lives On Student Group Leaders Speak on the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, February 10, marked the beginning of MIT's annual celebration
of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The events began
in the morning in Lobby 7, where a number of student group
representatives spoke about Dr. King's legacy and the challenges that
we still face today in our struggles for equality.
	At noon, Charles and Becky Vest, Leo Osgood, and A. Leon
Higginbotham led marchers four abreast across Massachusetts Avenue to
Kresge Auditorium, where Higginbotham was to give his keynote address:
"Trumpet of Conscience: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Contract With
America." In addition to Higginbotham's address, MIT awarded five MLK
Leadership awards. Two of the awards were presented to individuals: to
Cynthia R. McIntyre, Ph.D. for her efforts in organizing a national
conference for black physics students, and to Professor Robert W.
Mann, for his work in biomedical engineering. Three organizations were
also presented with awards: the Society of Hispanic Professional
Engineers (SHPE), the American Indian Science and Engineering Society
(AISES), and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) for the
work their groups did organizing a minority career fair.
	Events continued over the weekend; the sixth annual Martin
Luther King, Jr. Youthworkers Coming Together Realizing the Dream
Conference was held in the Stratton Student Center from Friday
afternoon until Sunday morning. Topics included: focus on the cultural
context of our work, monoculturalism vs. multiculturalism, and whether
we need a new Panther Party, to name but a few.

Student Group Speeches
	The following are excerpts from the student group speeches
presented in Lobby 7 on Friday morning. The speeches were coordinated
by Brima Wurie, assistant to the Deans in the Counseling and Support
Services and International Students' Office.

Belinda Garc’a 
La Union Chicana por Aztlan [Garc’a read excerpts from King's "Letter
from a Birmingham City Jail."]

	"Nearly three decades have passed since Martin Luther King,
Jr. wrote his letter from the Birmingham city jail. Yet in many areas
around this country, justice is still being delayed, still being
denied. (For some of us, it's been a 500 year wait.) Like Martin
Luther King's dream, I too hope that one day my very own children will
be judged on the content of their character. How many more generations
will pass through these corridors before this dream is a reality?"

Teresa W. Lau 
Coordinator, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals,and Friends at MIT and founding
member, Asian Pacific American Caucus

	"The challenge for us, as I see it, becomes a question of how
to build on Dr. King's ideas and work around equality for African
Americans, to expand those concepts and those analyses to address the
complexities of inequality as we know it to be. The struggles of
today, the struggles I find myself in the midst of, require that we
pay attention to the many levels and manifestations and sources of
oppression in our society.  Along gender lines, class lines, over
sexual preference and now citizenship status with the passing of
Proposition 187, we are being divided, and then conquered. An example
that comes to mind is the way that, 2 years ago, African Americans and
Asian Pacific Americans were pitted against each other with myths and
stereotypes, so that by the end of the LA riots, we could hardly see
clear of all the media images and propaganda to even begin finding
each other as allies. It's things like that that pain and frustrate me
the most: when I see men of color perpetuating misogyny and sexism,
when I see the poor and working class people supporting anti-immigrant
legislation, when I see queer people voting against affirmative
action. When things like that happen, we are only perpetuating the
system of oppression that keeps us all down. And really, we should
know better. We should know better than to buy into the kind of
injustice and inequality that Dr. King and the civil rights movement
of the sixties challenged and began mobilizing against. As we move
into the future and continue the struggle, we have to see each other
as the allies we could be, rather than as competitors for whatever
small piece of the pie we think we're getting. We must take what the
past can teach us, and use those lessons to help each other to survive
and overcome the oppression that Dr. King fought against. It is up to
us to continue the struggle, and particularly, to pay attention to our
histories as we do the work of creating our future."

S. Todd York 
President, American Indian Science and Engineering Society

	"What does it mean to be a Native American? Our lives are not
those in Dances With Wolves of even in F Troop. We are three groups of
people, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. What
we have in common is our culture. Our respect for the land and all of
its creatures and our connectedness to family.
	We are a unique group because we possess a dual citizenship:
America, and our respective tribe. In a time when our sovereignty is
being scrutinized by the Republican Right, we must demand that our
sovereignty be kept no matter what the cost in order to maintain our
culture.
	What does all of this have to do with the legacy of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., you might ask? From the teachings of Dr. King, we
must demand freedom from our oppressors, this sovereignty is essential
to our survival and freedom."

Brian Dye
President Interfraternity Council

	"Dr. King also said, 'I'm here, taking a stand, and I've come
to the point where I can't face it alone.' And he was exactly right.
There is no reason for him, or for anyone, to have to stand alone
against prejudice or discrimination in any form. To honor his memory,
and his achievements in life, all we have to do is give. Give away our
fears, and our hatred, and our ignorance. And help others give away
theirs. When all of us feel the cut of a crude joke, and feel hurt
when we see another person discriminated against, then we are on the
path towards equality."

Sheldon W. Myrie
Political Actions Chairperson, MIT Black Students' Union

	"Dr. King showed how closemindedness benefited no one and that
closemindedness made a society overlook the obvious and important fact
that we are all human beings. Through peaceful resistance and protest
Dr. King not only led Blacks but led the nation to believe that the
400 years of injustice and brainwashing have caused massive apathy in
America when concerned with the issues of human and civil rights.
Unless we endeavor to challenge what we are conditioned to believe,
all will remain in apathy and remain in ignorance."

Rebecca Wolfe
MIT Hillel
[Wolfe read inspirational passages from figures in Black and Jewish history. One excerpt is included below.]

	"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals,
because, in spite of everything I still believe that people are really
good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation
consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually
being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder,
which will destroy us too. I can feel the sufferings of millions and
yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think it will all come right,
that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquillity will
return again." [Anne Frank]

reported by Kristen Nummi Nummerdor

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