The MLK Jr. Leadership Awards are given annually to students, alumni, staff, groups and faculty who embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work. “Service to the community” is defined in the broadest sense and includes academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent.

Many thanks to all who submitted nominations for the 2020 MLK Leadership awards.

You can also review some tips for writing a nomination.

Previous Winners

Wes HarrisProfessor Wesley L. Harris is the recipient of the 40th MLK Jr. Celebration Lifetime Achievement award. This is a special award given only during decennial celebrations to acknowledge a community member who has given in dedicated service to the MIT Community. Dr. Harris has been a MIT professor at many different points in his career. He first served as professor from 1972-79 and then again from 1996 until present. He was also the very first Director of MIT’s Office of Minority Education from 1975 to 1978. Dr. Harris served as Head of Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Housemaster for New House Residence Hall, and most recently as the Associate Provost for Faculty Equity. He is honored for his ongoing commitment to ensuring that all students achieve academically at MIT and for his work on increasing diversity efforts for faculty.


Helena Ma ’19, Chemistry and Biology
Andrew Mairena ‘G, Sloan School of Management
Ramona Allen, Assistant Dean for Human Resources, MIT School of Architecture and Planning
Shauna Bush-Fenty, Administrative Assistant II, MIT Office of the Provost
MIT CASE (Class Awareness Support and Equality)


Tsehai Grell
Daniel Jackson
Josue Lopez
Lee Perlman
Joshua Woodard
Assoc. of Puerto Rican Students (APR) : Caribbean Initiative


Kristala L. Jones Prather
Michael Beautyman
Catherine Gamon
Maryanne Kirkbride
Tremaan A. Robbins
Reginald (Reggie) Van Lee ’79, SM ’80
Muslim Student Association

2016  [video, news]

Ethan Zuckerman
Barbara A. Johnson
Rasheed Auguste ’17
George Chao ‘G
La-Tarri M. Canty
Fossil Free MIT
MIT Black Graduate Student Union

2015 [video, news]

Michel DeGraff
Adriane Brown SM ’91
Abigail Francis
Kelvin Frazier
Alyssa Napier
Judith Stein

2014 [news]

Sally Haslanger
Atif Javed
Michael Owu
The Hispanic/Latino Network at Lincoln Laboratories
Wesley Harris (lifetime achievement award)


Colin “Topper” Carew
Bomy Lee Chung
Priscilla Gray
Jocelyn O. Joseph, M.D.
Uddhav Sharma


Edmund Bertschinger
Arnold Henderson
Julia Jaskolska
Alyce Johnson
Cato Laurencin The MIT-Wellesley Upward Bound Program

2011 [news]

Cheryl Charles
Weslee Glenn
Deborah Hodges-Pabon The MITES Program


Melvin King
Michael Johnson
Benjamin Mensah
Aisha Naima Walcott

2009 [news]

Barry Reckley
Deborah Liverman
Christine Ortiz
John Essigmann
Jason Forte
Aisha Bobb-Semple

2008 [news]

Michael S. Feld
Leo Osgood Jr.
Lorlene Hoyt
Zina Queen
Ali S. Wyne

2007 Isaac M. Colbert

S. Michelle Harton ‘G
Austin V. Harton
La Tonya Green ‘G
Nathaniel Gerald


Acia Adams-Heath
Oluwamuyiwa Olubuyide ‘G
Charles M. Vest, President of MIT, 1990-2004


James S. Banks ’76
Russell E. (Erich) Caulfield ‘G
James L. Sherley

2004 [news]

LaRuth McAfee ‘G
Salvatore Molica ’75
Blanche Staton
J. Phillip Thompson


Jonathan A. King
Hector Hernandez ‘G
Chiquita White ’85


Paul E. Gray ’54, SM ’55, ScD ’60
President of MIT, 1980-90
Cheryl Vossmer
Randal D. Pinkett SM ’98, MBA ’98, PhD’02
CEO, Building Community with Technology
Tamara S. Williams SM ’00, PhD ’06


Harvey Gantt ’70
Wesley Harris
Desiree Ramirez ’02

2000 [news]

Rafael Bras ’72
Ticora Jones ’00
Woodrow Whitlow ’74

1999 [news]

Alexander H. Slocum
Adriana L. Holguin


Lynda M. Jordan PhD ’85
MIT MLK Visiting Professor
Associate Professor of Chemistry, North Carolina A&T State University

Eto Otitigbe ’99
Senior Co-chair, Chocolate City
MIT List Foundation Fellow

Tobie F. Weiner
Undergraduate Administrator
Department of Political Science
Instuctor, IAP Design Seminar


Sylvester James Gates, Jr. ’73, PhD ’77
Professor of Physics, University of Maryland

Myra Rodrigues
Retired Social Worker, MIT Medical Department

MIT Committee on Campus Race Relations


Matthew J. Turner ’96
Architecture and Mechanical Engineering

Leon Trilling
Professor Emeritus, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Shirley A. Jackson ’68, PhD ’73