This past weekend, Crystal Sayles, from our Legal team, and I were proud to represent Intel at the rescheduled unveiling of the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. Hurricane Irene thwarted the originally scheduled dedication of the MLK memorial and the Gala event in August, but during this past weekend’s events we were fortunate to have clear blue sunny skies and warm temperatures.
This was an especially important event to me as a member of Intel’s Global Public Policy team and as a proud member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Dr. King was also a member of Alpha, initiated into the Sigma Chapter on June 22, 1952, while he was attending Boston University.
Rep. Connie Morella (D-MD) originally introduced legislation in 1996, to authorize Alpha Phi Alpha to establish the memorial, and the Alphas with Morella lobbyied for two years in an effort to see the passage of the bill. In 1998, they were successful. The bill was passed and signed by President Bill Clinton. Congress authorized the fraternity to establish a foundation and approved the building of the memorial on the National Mall. The winning design was unveiled on Sept. 13, 2000, in Washington, D.C. at a gala event addressed by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who expressed her pleasure with the project and the design, stating, “I thank my husband’s Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, which led the 15-year effort to bring this memorial to this point.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, led by my friend and fraternity brother, Harry Johnson, was charged to manage the memorial’s fundraising and design, and It was due in large part to Harry’s efforts in raising the $120 million that the memorial we see today has become a reality.
My fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., was founded in 1906 at Cornell University, becoming the first Greek-letter organization established by African-Americans. Today, the group counts more than 125,000 members and true to its form as the “first of firsts,” Alpha Phi Alpha has been interracial since 1945. Other legendary Alphas include Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (D-NY); W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founder of the NAACP; and jazz composer Duke Ellington. Today’s prominent members include Edward Brooke former Senator from Massachusetts; Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; Bobby Scott (D-VA); Chaka Fattah (D-PA); Charles Rangel (D-NY); my pledge brother, Hansen Clarke (D-MI); and former ambassador Andrew Young and many others.
As a native of Detroit, Michigan I was also quite proud that two of my hometown natives, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder were on hand to salute the crowd in song and honor the dedication of the memorial. In the audience seated near me were members of the Obama administration including Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury; Eric Holder, Attorney General; Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA and many members of Congress including John Lewis (D-GA); Karen Bass (D-CA); Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and others.
As you can imagine I was elated that Deb Conrad, Intel VP & General Manager Corporate Marketing Group and Roz Hudnell, Intel’s Chief Diversity Officer, led Intel’s commitment to the memorial as Intel was a platinum sponsor of the Civil Rights Ladies Luncheon “Women Who Dare to Dream” which was held August 26th.
As the father of a 12 year old girl, It makes me proud to know that Intel remains committed to bringing traditionally unrepresented groups, especially minorities and women, into science, technology, engineering and math, so called STEM fields, and as of this year has enabled 10 million teachers world-wide to effectively integrate technology into their lessons to promote problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills among their students, many of which Dr. King’s efforts were meant to impact. Rosalind indicated in her earlier blog, that during Dr. King’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he remarked that “mankind’s survival is dependent upon man’s ability to solve the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war; the solution of these problems is in turn dependent upon man squaring his moral progress with his scientific progress, and learning the practical art of living in harmony.” This weekend’s historic events made me proud to be in Washington, D.C. representing a company that is working hard so that my daughter, and women and girls alike, are excited about science, technology, engineering and math, and have an opportunity to be a future contributor to the innovation in this nation.