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King Celebration Takes Place Today

By Sarah Y. Keightley
News Editor

The Institute's 21st annual celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. takes place today and tomorrow.

The featured speaker is A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., chief judge emeritus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Public Service Professor of Jurisprudence at Harvard University. The theme of his address is "The Trumpet of Conscience: Dr. Martin Luther King's Contract with America."

Higginbotham's address is part of a series of day-long events, said Director of the Office of Minority Education Leo Osgood Jr., one of the co-chairs who planned the event.

The celebration starts with an invitational breakfast this morning hosted by President Charles M. Vest and his wife Becky Vest. A highlight of this year's events is the establishment of the MLK Leadership Awards and the announcement of the new MLK visiting professor program, Vest said. The award winners will be announced at the breakfast.

At noon, the traditional silent march from Lobby 7 to Kresge Auditorium will take place. Higginbotham will then speak.

Argued for Overlap

The MIT community might better remember Higginbotham for his support of the Institute in the Overlap anti-trust lawsuit. In the case, the Justice Department charged MIT and other schools with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by discussing and agreeing upon the financial aid packages of individual students who had been offered admission to more than one of the schools. After nearly three years of litigation, the case was settled in December 1993.

In June 1993, Higginbotham joined MIT's attorney and made an impassioned argument before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He argued that the public service aspect of the case outweighed the alleged harm of price-fixing.

"I find a special significance in having as our speaker the distinguished jurist Leon Higginbotham because he played a wonderful role in the MIT financial aid anti-trust case," Vest said.

"He took on our cause because he believed our principle of need-blind admission and need-based aid was very important in providing access to the best of American higher education for talented youth of all races, regardless of financial status," Vest said. "This bond between the Institute and a great leader and chronicler of civil rights in America brings particular meaning to this year's celebration."

A reception in Kresge lobby will follow Higginbotham's address where he will meet with members of the MIT community.

The celebration continues tomorrow at 8 p.m. in Kresge, when jazz vocalist Semenya McCord will give a free performance of "A Journey into a Dream: A Musical Tribute to Martin Luther King."

Also, Melvin H. King, the director of the Community Fellows Program, is holding a weekend youth conference.

Professor of Physics Michael S. Feld '62 helped Osgood chair the planning committee for the celebration.