Actions of MIT’s 15th president have ‘grown to inspire generations,’ Reif says.
Cedric L. Logan was born in Montgomery, AL, on March 31, 1968, four days before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Dr. King's life affected the life of Mr. Logan and his peers in profound ways.
Mr. Logan is thankful and appreciative.
"My parents always taught us to be aware of the struggles and sacrifices Dr. King and others like him went through," said Mr. Logan (SM '93), a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering and computer science. "They taught us to be grateful for the privileges and freedoms we enjoy today as a result of those struggles and sacrifices."
His father, Sidney Logan Jr., now 75, a cattle farmer near Hayneville, AL, marched with Dr. King from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 and ran for sheriff the next year as a member of the Lowndes County Freedom Party. "I personally know many people who participated in many events of the civil rights movement," the younger Mr. Logan said.
He and Eto S. Otitigbe, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Albany, NY, will reflect on the meaning of the life of the martyred civil rights leader at MIT's 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebratory Breakfast on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 8 am at La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Stratton Student Center.
Three other students will take part in the program. Greg Shell of New Bedford, MA, a senior in political science, will be the master of ceremonies. Guests will be welcomed in English and Spanish by Kira M. Huseby of Oak Park, IL, a junior in mathematics who is the attorney general of the Black Students Union, and Kimberley L. Miller of Guaynabo, PR, a senior in mechanical engineering.
The keynote speaker will be Elaine R. Jones, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. President Charles M. Vest and Provost Joel Moses will also speak.
Invitations are required to attend the breakfast. Requests must be received by Friday, Jan. 31 via e-mail. For information, see the Web site at <http://web.mit.edu/mlking/www>.
Mr. Logan received the BS magna cum laude in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1989 and came to MIT on a GEM Fellowship, awarded by the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. He is the third youngest of seven children and the only one who strayed far from home.
The elder Mr. Logan lost the family trucking business after white farmers mounted a boycott during his unsuccessful run for county sheriff in 1966. In 1972, he ran for county commissioner and lost. Lowndes County now has African-Americans serving as sheriff and county commissioner as well as several other black office-holders.
"I never saw my father hateful or bitter toward the people who boycotted him, even though many of them were our neighbors," Mr. Logan said, noting that his father and a first cousin were the only African-Americans at the funeral of one of the white men who organized the boycott.
"By his life of nonviolence, Dr. King taught the people of my hometown to stand up for justice, but to do so with love and peace," he said.
Ms. Huseby, whose mother is white and father is black, recalls how impressed she was as a young student by Dr. King's total commitment to a righteous cause, whatever the price.
"I remember being deeply touched that a single individual would lay down his life against the social injustices of our world," she said. "Being a person of mixed race myself makes the ideal of a world free of prejudice such a necessary and attainable reality in my mind.
"I believe this is what Dr. King wanted for all of us and I'm sure he knew he wouldn't live to see this day, but he still continued to fight for this end. I have always felt that Dr. King is the most admirable figure in history because his beliefs, if executed, would benefit all humanity."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 29, 1997.