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Political strategist will give keynote at MLK breakfast

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile, the first African-American woman to lead a major presidential campaign, will be the keynote speaker at MIT's 32nd annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme for the 2006 celebration is "Dr. King's Unfinished Agenda: A Call for Economic and Social Justice in the 21st Century." Brazile will deliver her remarks at a breakfast event honoring King on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 a.m. in Morss Hall. MIT President Susan Hockfield and Dr. Thomas Byrne will host the celebration.

Brazile served as senior strategist and campaign manager for Democrat Al Gore's 2000 presidential bid.

A native of New Orleans, she is currently chair of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and managing director of her own political consulting firm, Brazile and Associates, in Washington, D.C.

Brazile's 2004 book, "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics," is a memoir of her career as a political strategist, including such accomplishments as organizing demonstrations to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday as well as working in senior roles in the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson, Richard Gephardt, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton.

According to "Cooking With Grease," Brazile discovered her flair for political organizing as a youngster, when she campaigned for a candidate who promised her neighborhood a playground. She committed her professional life to political and social activism the day after King was assassinated in 1968.

Prior to managing the Gore-Lieberman campaign in 2000, Brazile was chief of staff and press secretary to U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia).

A frequent contributor and political commentator on CNN's "Inside Politics" and "Crossfire," Brazile is a colunist for Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, and a contributing writer for Ms. magazine. She has also produced and hosted "A View From the Hill," on Radio One in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.

In addition to working on political campaigns, Brazile has served as a senior lecturer and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and as a fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics. ��She is presently the Senator Wynona Lipman Chair in Women's Political Leadership at Rutgers University.

Brazile is the founder and executive director of the National Political Congress of Black Women. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Award for Political Achievement. She was also named one of Washingtonian magazine's 100 most powerful women in Washington, D.C. Brazile earned the B.A. degree from Louisiana State University.

The MIT breakfast honoring King is open to students and other members of the MIT community. Space is limited and reservations are necessary. To request an invitation, please visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 25, 2006 (download PDF).

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