Educator and humanitarian Johnnetta B. Cole, the first African-American woman to serve as president of Spelman College, will be the keynote speaker at MIT's 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration on Thursday.
Echoing slogans from the recent presidential election, the breakfast will focus on the theme: "Yes We Must: Achieve Diversity through Leadership." The event will feature remarks by MIT President Susan Hockfield, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay, Provost L. Rafael Reif, and students Ana Lorena Ramos MaltÃ©s, Matt Gethers and Joy Johnson. The Rev. Robert Randolph, chaplain to the Institute, will give the invocation. The MIT Gospel Choir will perform.
Cole joins Donna Brazile and Gwen Ifill as the latest in a long line of distinguished speakers for MIT's annual event honoring the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.
Cole's academic and community service work has consistently addressed issues of racial, gender and other forms of discrimination. She is the only individual to have served as president of the two historically black colleges for women in the United States: Bennett College for Women (2002-2007) and Spelman College (1987-1997). Cole is also professor emerita of Emory University, from which she retired as the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and African American Studies. From 2004 to 2006, she was the first person of color to serve as the chair of the board of the United Way of America.
She is now the chair of the board of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute, founded at Bennett College.
The breakfast, which begins at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, in Morss Hall, is open to the community, but space is limited and reservations are necessary. Register at: http://web.mit.edu/mlking/www/event_index.html
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 4, 2009 (download PDF).