Annual MLK observance

Each January, Boston Children's Hospital honors the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by holding the MLK Observance Program. Scholars are invited to speak about his legacies as a source of inspiration. In addition to the presentation by a scholar, the program includes musical selections, performances by adolescents or children, prayers offered by members of the Department of Pastoral Care and other staff, and recognition of the Black Achievers for the year.

The program is organized by the MLK Observance Committee. Its members include:

  • Chair, Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, '84*
  • Frantz Antoine '06
  • Umilta Eadie '81
  • Deloris Eason '79
  • Dina Hajjaj-Saouli
  • Lillian Hughes '98
  • Karol Jordan '95
  • Ourania Nikolaidis
  • Sonia Pinnock '00
  • Malissa Williams '06
  • Carol Wilson '02

*Indicates the year the member received the Black Achievers Award

2011 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance



Boston Arts Academy (BAA) Theatre Arts Majors will present speeches made by Representative Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) and US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Musical selections will be provided by Gregory Groover, Jr. and his band. Gregory and his band members are students at BAA and the Berklee College of Music.

The program will recognize the late Honorable Reginald Lindsay as embodying the legacies previously featured at the MLK Observances: Leadership, Living the Dream and Mentoring. In addition, the 2011 Black Achievers award recipients will be recognized.

This year's observance will feature a drawing for six baskets of books, 2 each for infants/toddlers; elementary age children and adults -- a very popular feature of the event.

"The MLK Observance is one of the few times during the year when employees representing all sectors of Boston Children's gather in one place. The diversity of the audience is a tribute to the memory of Dr. King."

-- Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP


Boston Children's President Sandra Fenwich and Prof. David Thomas


Boston Children's Hospital celebrated the legacy of civil rights leader Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. during its 2010 MLK Observance last Thursday. More than 200 Boston Children's employees attended the event, which was held in the Folkman Auditorium. Led by Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, ABPP, this year's observance commenced with a moment of silence to pay respect to all individuals, families and communities affected by the earthquake which has devastated the nation of Haiti.

The theme of this year's observance was MLK Legacy: Mentoring. David A. Thomas, PhD, the N. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University's Graduate School of Business, served as the keynote speaker. Thomas is a recognized thought leader in the area of strategic human resource management. During his speech, Thomas emphasized the importance of collaborating and networking with individuals from diverse ethnicity, cultures and employment backgrounds.

The two recipients of the annual Black Achievers Award were announced at the event. The recipients were Tarsha Weaver, manager of operations and administration at Martha Eliot Health Center, and Boston Children's Renatta Johnson, administrative associate in the Division of Respiratory Diseases. Weaver and Johnson were nominated by their managers and were selected by the MLK Observance Committee members based on their contributions to Boston Children's. Black Achievers is a national program sponsored by the YMCA that provides business and industry leaders with community service opportunities that help minority youth.

The observance also included performances by vocal soloist Koriana Bradford, BA, from the Berklee College of Music, accompanied by Twaun M. Doyle, MPA, on keyboard.

During the closing remarks, James Mandell, MD, Boston Children's chief executive officer, recognized Shannon Manzi, PharmD, David Mooney, MD, MPH, and Gary Fleisher, MD, who traveled to Haiti to provide critically-needed medical care to earthquake victims. Mandell honored the clinicians for their "service to others and to the Haitian community."


Keynote Speakers 2007-2009



2009 - Legacy: Living the Dream

Dr. Emery N. Brown, Professor, at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology served as the 2009 keynote speaker. Musical selections were offered by Alan Willis, a graduate student from the New England Conservatory of Music and a dance performance was provided by Toni Jackson, a nurse and dancer. The two recipients of the 2009 Black Achievers Awards, Michelle Boyce and Victoria Dune, were presented with awards during the event.



2008 - Legacy: Leadership

Evelynn M. Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University became Harvard's first Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity in July 2005. In this role Dr. Hammonds directs Harvard's institutional policies and transformation, university-wide, in areas of faculty growth and diversity. Dr. Hammonds' scholarship focuses on the intersection of scientific, medical, and socio-political concepts of race in the United States.

She is the author of Childhood's Deadly Scourge: The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880-1930. She co-edited Gender and Scientific Authority with Barbara Laslett, Sally G. Kohl and Helen Longino, and she is completing two new books on the history of race in science and medicine. Dr. Hammonds earned a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard University, a S.M. in Physics from MIT, a B.E.E. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Physics from Spelman College. She is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. Dr. Hammonds serves as a member of the Board of Governors, University of California Humanities Research Institute; the Board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities; the Board of Overseers, Museum of Science, Boston, and the Board of Trustees of the Social Science Research Council.

Effective June 1, 2008, Professor Hammonds will be the Dean of Harvard College. She will be the first woman and first African American to hold this appointment.


2007 - Legacy: Literacy

Theresa Perry
 is a Professor in the Departments of Africana Studies and Education at Simmons College and Director of the Simmons College/Beacon Press Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series. Her current writings and work have focused on the development of a theory of practice for African American achievement and a meta-analysis of educational environments that normalize high achievement for Black students. Dr. Perry is coauthor, with Asa Hilliard III and Claude Steele of Young Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African American Students; co-editor with Lisa Delpit of The Real Ebonics Debate: Power Language and the Education of African American Students; editor of Teaching Malcolm X; and co-editor of Freedom's Plow: Teaching in the Multicultural Classroom. She is completing a book entitled, Educating African American Students: What Teachers, Teacher Educators and Community Activists Should Know.

Dr. Perry is currently a member of the advocacy group, Community Partners for a New Superintendent; a member of the Board of the Boston Medical Center; a founding member of the National Coalition for Quality Schools in New Orleans; and member of the board of Child Magazine. She conceptualized and is one of the leaders of the citywide lecture series now in its third year, entitled Race, Culture Identity and Achievement Seminar Series.

Dr. Perry received her baccalaureate degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Masters degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin and a doctoral degree from the Human Development Laboratory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Musical selections


Traditionally, the MLK Observance has included musical selections. Music was woven into the Civil Rights Movement, as many of the meetings were held in churches and the demonstrators sang as they marched and picketed.

Past musicians have included:

Past vocalists have included:

  • Valerie Caldwell, JD, soloist, Charles Street AME Church, Boston, MA
  • Taleesha Scott, sololist, New England Conservatory

Closing prayers offered by:

Ronald Lacro, MD - Cardiology David Urion, MD - Neurology Maggie Gellen, RN-ICU




Dr. King was a great orator and writer. Literacy is one of his legacies. From 2005-2007, the MLK Observance program included a list of "Suggested Books for Children and Adolescents." A longer list of books has been available at the MLK Observance reception where the books have been on display. In 2008, the books listed in the program were written by local Black women writers.

The lists are distributed in order to encourage program attendees to purchase books for their family members and friends or for patients at Boston Children's.

At the 2008 Observance Program, attendees submitted their names for drawings for four gift baskets of books, two each for children/adolescents and for adults. This was well-received. The hope is that book gift baskets will become a part of the hospital culture.

Selected books have featured:

  • 2008: Local Leading Literary Ladies
  • 2007: Recipients of the Coretta Scott King Book Award 
  • 2006: Literature by authors Virginia Hamilton, Tom Feelings and Eloise Greenfield 
  • 2005: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement


About the Boston Arts Academy Program


Since 2005, students from the Boston Arts Academy have provided forensic performances at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Program. The Boston Arts Academy, a pilot school within the Boston Public Schools, is charged with being a laboratory and beacon for artistic and academic innovation.

Topics presented by BAA students in the Theater Arts Department include:

  • 2008: "The Meeting" - A fictionalized meeting between MLK and Malcom X
  • 2007: Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder and Sickle Cell Disease
  • 2006: Anxiety and Diabetes
  • 2005: Depression and Asthma

In 2005, the scripts for the two performers were prepared by the students. Then in 2006 and 2007, the scripts were prepared by post-doctoral psychology fellows.


Black achievers award


The two recipients of the annual Black Achievers Award are announced at the MLK Observance. Recipients are nominated by their managers and are then selected by the MLK Observance Committee members based on their contribution to Boston Children's.

Black Achievers is a national program sponsored by the YMCA that provides business and industry leaders with community service opportunities that help minority youth.

Each year, Boston Children's selects two employees to represent the hospital as Black Achievers, an honor that requires recipients to perform 40 hours of community service benefiting youth.


Past recipients



  • Domingas Fernandes, Training Group Leader, Environmental Services Department

  • Valerie L. Ward, MD, MPH, Staff Radiologist, Department of Radiology, and DCCC Faculty Director




  • Ronald Wilkinson, MA, MS, Manager of Business Intelligence in Information Services

  • Stacey Williams, Pathology Office Manager





  • Frantz Antoine, Manager, Environmental Services

  • Malissa Williams, Nutrition/Food Services




  • Faith Patterson-Dupie, Radiographer

  • Manna Heshe, RN, BSN, Staff Nurse at the Martha Eliot Health Center