Annual MLK Celebration

Don’t miss the 2023 ceremony!

On February 8th, 2023 from 11:00am to 1:00pm the community will gather in Walker Memorial and virtually to honor Dr. King’s legacy with a series of activities, highlighting this year’s theme:

“Let us uphold the flame for fairness & justice. There’s a certain kind of fire that must not be extinguished”.

RSVP here to attend the luncheon.

The event will also be live streamed here, no registration required.

Program and speakers:

Hosted by MIT President Dr. Sally Kornbluth and featuring keynote Speaker: Dr. Angela Y. Davis, Feminist & Writer.

Our program will also feature:

Master of Ceremonies: Myles I. Noel (’24), Course 5

Undergraduate Speaker: Nicole Harris (’24), Course 20; BSU Co-Chair

Graduate Speaker: Jaleesa Trapp, PhD Student; MIT Media Lab

Staff Speaker: Steven N. Branch, MPAc; Associate Director, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, MIT Sloan School of Management


MLK Art Exhibition

February 6 – 10, Lobby 10

MIT community members were invited to honor the legacy of Dr. King with visual, literary, and performance arts inspired by his ideals. Their works may embody his mission, highlight this year’s theme of upholding the flame for fairness and justice, or may show us hope for the future with joy. Winning submissions will be displayed.

MLK Leadership Award Ceremony & Reception

February 7, 5:30 – 7:30pm, E15 Bartos Theater, MIT Media Lab

A separate reception will honor the work of outstanding MIT community leaders and this year’s MLK Leadership Award recipients: undergraduate winner Aria Kydd, graduate winner Jensen Johnson, staff winner Moana Bentin, faculty winner Frank Ahimaz, and alumna winner Mareena Robinson-Snowden.

Take this opportunity to meet this year’s cohort of MLK Visiting Scholars!

New this year: MLK Vendors Market

February 10, 4:30 – 6:30pm in the Bush Room, 10-110

The first annual MLK Vendor’s Market offers a chance to support local black owned businesses! Shop lotions, candles, crystals, clothing, and more. Light refreshments will be served.


About the celebration

The MIT community gathers every February to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Institute began its annual celebration of Dr. King Jr. in 1975 with memorial activities and lectures by prominent speakers, including a keynote address by Coretta Scott King in 1994. Martin Luther King Day was designated an Institute holiday in 1976, a decade before its first official observance as a federal holiday.

Hosted by the Office of the President, these celebrations feature remarks from MIT leadership, from each of the recipients of that year’s MLK Leadership Awards, from a staff speaker nominated by the community, and from a keynote speaker who is a prominent leader, nationally or in the local community, in accordance with Dr. King’s dual emphasis on global and local issues.

Previous MLK Annual Celebrations

For a comprehensive information about previous MLK Annual Celebration events, visit the MLK Scholars website.

YearPast keynote speakers
2022Eddie S. Glaude Jr.; educator, author, political commentator, and public intellectual.VIDEO, ARTICLE
2021Ijeoma Oluo; writer, speaker, internet yeller. “What we are fighting for is Black Joy.”VIDEOARTICLE
2020Kevin Richardson, one of the Central Park Five: Speak Up, Have Courage, Confront InjusticeVIDEOARTICLE
2019Rahsaan Hall of the ACLU’s Massachusetts branch: America’s bank of justice is overdrawn but not bankruptVIDEOARTICLE
2018Wade Davis: Sustaining the struggle for equity: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhereVIDEOARTICLE
2017Aprille Joy Ericsson: Discrimination affects us allVIDEO, ARTICLE
2016Freeman A. Hrabowski, III: Truth & Power, Students Leading for ChangeVIDEOARTICLE
2015Hosted by President Rafael Reif (keynote speaker Rinku Sen was unable to attend): iActivism Individuals Empowering the CollectiveARTICLE, POSTER
2014Michael Eric Dyson: Should human rights be determined at the ballot box?
2013Paula Williams Madison: Illuminating the Elements of Meritocracy.
2012Richard Tapia: Expanding the Possible
2011Roland Martin: Excellence is a Shared Path: Working Together for Justice and the Quality of Life
2010Gerry Hudson: Deploying Our Gifts for the Betterment of Humankind: What would Dr. King say about us?
2009Johnetta Cole: Yes We Must: Achieve Diversity Through Leadership
2008Johnnetta Cole: Ensuring Educational Access: Our Challenge, Our Opportunity Ray Hammond
2007Ted Childs, Jr.: Maximizing Potential: The Congruence of Diversity and Excellence
2006Donna Brazile: Dr. King’s Unfinished Agenda: A Call for Economic & Social Justice in the 21st Century
2005Gwen Ifill: Justice and Equality for All: America’s Moral Dilemma
2004Julianne Malveaux: Rhetoric or Reality: Civil Right Under Seige
2003Julian Bond: Faces at the Bottom of the Well: Nightmare of Reality vs. Dr. King’s Dream
2002Tavis Smiley: From Dreams to Reality: The Illusion of Full Inclusion
2001Lani Guinier: Confronting the Gap: Building and Sustaining Inclusion
2000Shirley Ann Jackson: Engineering Bold Leadership for the 21st Century: A Blueprint for Full Participation in Academia, Government and Industry
1999Kweisi Mfume: Teaching and Learning: The Key to Full Inclusion
1996Dr. Julius L. Chambers: With Liberty and Justice for All