martin luther king, jr., memorial committee at boston college
In 1979 and 1980, before MLK Day became a national holiday, Donald Brown, Director of AHANA Student Programs, led an effort to have a prayer service in Dr. King's memory. The first service was held on the second floor conference room in McElroy and the second one in Robsham Theater with the participation of several local black ministers. Even though the attendance was relatively small, the stage was set for a more substantial University-wide celebration.
Dr. Brown held informal meetings with several interested faculty and administrators. Among that original group were: Dan Bunch, Director, Learning to Learn; the late John A. Dinneen, S.J., then University Chaplain; the late Amanda Houston, Director, African and African Diaspora Studies; Norman Araujo and Arnold Mazur, who was Director, Health Services. As a result of those meetings, it was decided to schedule a yearly dinner in Dr. King's memory which would feature a noted guest speaker, to begin in 1982. The charter group also agreed to establish a scholarship which would be awarded to a junior of African descent who both exemplified Dr. King's spirit and demonstrated academic excellence.
Funding the scholarship was easier said than done. The Committee's dream was to award a full academic scholarship for the recipient's senior year. In 1982, the award was $500 and in 1983 $1,000. Several people supported the Committee's goals and helped with the funding of the scholarship. Dr. Frank Campanella, Executive Vice President, subsidized the dinner so that a small profit could be added to the scholarship fund. Athletic Director Mr. William Flynn donated proceeds of a Boston College exhibition basketball game to the scholarship fund for several years. Under Dan Bunch's and Howard Enoch's initiative, a yearly play highlighting black culture was staged and the profit was given to the fund. Most notably a gift of $25,000 ($5,000 yearly) was made by the Jesuit Community at Boston College. In 1990, Fr. J. Donald Monan, S.J., then President of Boston College, committed funds to insure a scholarship award equal to 75% of senior year tuition.
Since 1981, the Committee has become widely recognized and the banquet a much anticipated celebration on campus. The Committee has grown over the years with faculty, staff, and administrators from every part of the University playing a role at one time or another.
The goal of the Committee continues to be that of realizing Dr. King's dream of social justice and equality. The Committee has taken on numerous activities in eradicating racism and promoting multi-cultural understanding. Through the P.R.I.D.E. Sub-committee, workshops on prejudice awareness and multi-cultural undertanding have been conducted for individual groups and offices throughout the Boston College community. For several years, the Committee funded participation in a summer program at the King Center in Atlanta, GA, for a graduate or undergraduate student. The program focused on Dr. King's philosophy of non-violence and the experience was shared by the participant with the BC community. Extending itself beyond campus boundaries, the Committee has established the M.L.K., Jr. and Amanda V. Houston Community Service Awards honoring persons in the greater Boston area for their contributions to the community.
The Committee and its work has grown and developed in positive ways. The Archbishop Oscar A. Romero and the Benigno and Corazon Aquino Scholarship were both modeled on the M.L.K., Jr., Memorial Committee Scholarship.
The Committee was established with the goal of enhancing diversity, multi-cultural education, intercultural communication and understanding, and social justice on the Boston College campus. Over the years, the Committee developed a process for awarding a scholarship to a junior student who exemplified the characteristics and commitment of Dr. King. The committee also co-sponsored keynote speaker addresses, discussion groups, dramatic and musical performances, discussions of books and films, and summer study and workshops. Because a shared belief in Dr. King's dream of social justice and equality is so evident on campus, one can expect that the Committee will continue to have a positive impact on the Boston College community.