Civil rights attorney and political activist Lezli Baskerville will be the keynote speaker at MIT's 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebratory breakfast at Walker Memorial on Friday, Feb. 13 at 8am.
The theme of this year's celebration is "'The Same Old Bone': The Campaign Against Affirmative Action." The phrase "the same old bone" was used by Dr. King to describe the tactics of the Kennedy administration regarding racial matters in his book Why We Can't Wait (Harper and Row, 1963). Dr. King wrote: "The Negro felt that the same old bone had been tossed to him in the past -- only now it was being passed to him on a platter, with courtesy."
Ms. Baskerville, a graduate of Rutgers University and Howard University Law School, is general counsel to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), an umbrella organization of the 117 predominantly black colleges and universities, both private and land grant. She was senior assistant to retired US Rep. William Gray of Pennsylvania on the the Budget Committee, and she was equal opportunity/civil rights counsel to retired US Rep. Walter Fauntroy of the District of Columbia. She was also the founding director of the National Black Leadership Roundtable, sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.
In 1989, she formed the Baskerville Group, a Washington-based legal and legislative services group whose clients include elected officials, institutions of higher learning, municipalities and nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Baskerville worked on Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988 and was Louisiana's deputy coordinator for the1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. She is a founding board member of the National Rainbow Coalition.
President Charles M. Vest will host the breakfast, and Provost Joel Moses will also speak. In addition, leadership awards will be presented to a faculty member, an alumnus/alumna and a student, honoring work that exemplifies the legacy of Dr. King.
Breakfast guests will include the four current Dr. Martin Luther King Visiting Professors -- Winston Sobo-yejo, associate professor at Ohio State University, in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Linda Jordan, associate professor at North Carolina A&T State University, in the Department of Chemistry; Ernesto Cortes, southwest director of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Austin, TX, in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; and Louis Thomas, assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in the Sloan School of Management. They willï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½be joined by former MLK Visiting Professor Steven Lee, a research staff member at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The celebration will conclude with "Journey Into a Dream," the fifth annual musical tribute to Dr. King by jazz vocalist Semenya McCord and associates at Kresge Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 8pm. Admission to the concert is free and the public is invited.
Last year's Martin Luther King Jr. keynote speaker was Elaine Jones, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Earlier speakers included Coretta Scott King, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., Rep. Gray, Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks and Nikki Giovanni.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 14, 1998.