Nominated by colleagues and selected by the MLK Planning Committee, a sub-committee of the Committee on Race and Diversity, the winners are Michael George Johnson MCP ’97; Melvin H. King, senior lecturer, emeritus, in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Benjamin Mensah, a junior at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and Aisha Walcott, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The winners will be honored at a dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 3, the evening before the 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast. Gerry Hudson, the international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, will be this year’s keynote speaker at the breakfast. Register here to attend the event.
The breakfast will also honor Leo Osgood, the former MIT basketball coach, associate dean and director of the Office of Minority Education who passed away in November.
“The honor has more meaning since it comes as we are paying tribute to Leo Osgood and the stellar role he played living and providing opportunities for hundreds to realize their dreams,” said King, founder and current director of the South End Technology Center. He was nominated for his longstanding activism and community development work in the Boston area, as well as for his work in developing the Community Fellows Program at MIT.
Johnson was nominated by Amy Glasmeier, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, for bringing “energy and innovation” to local government in New York City and Newark, N.J. He is senior vice president in charge of real estate and at Brick City Development Corp., a nonprofit that draws private investment to Newark.
"I am humbled to be recognized by MIT with an award named after a man whose efforts, convictions and faith made my matriculation at MIT possible," Johnson said.
Walcott was nominated by at least five people for how she brings “her talent to bear in service to the world community.” She is a founding member of the Academy of Courageous Minority Engineers, a professional and scholar development program for graduate students.
Humbled to receive the award, Walcott said her service to others is “extremely fulfilling and always a learning opportunity.” She recognized that her work has been done “with many others, including those here at MIT, out in our communities and across the globe.”
Mensah was nominated for his mentoring work, both at MIT and with Project LEAD, a program for high school boys of color designed and created by Mensah and several other MIT undergraduates.