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Photo of Kathie L. Olsen
Credit: Sam Kittner/kittner.com

Dr. Kathie L. Olsen
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
National Science Foundation

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Commemoration

National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA

January 17, 2007

-- as delivered --

Thank you, Henry.1

It is a privilege to join you as we commemorate the life and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This morning we are recognizing this true visionary, a man who inspired a nation to join him in his march toward racial and social justice.

At a time when violence and humiliation, separate and unequal were the social norm for African Americans, Dr. King worked toward replacing these negatives with the positives of a sense of dignity and self-respect, which all human beings deserve.

Dr. King's policy and practice of nonviolence became the dominant force in the Civil Rights Movement. He firmly believed that civil disobedience would create what he called, "nonviolent tension." This "tension" he said was necessary, "to help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood." I'm sure if Dr. King were alive today, he would say "to help men and women." History and the King legacy validates his instincts. From "Freedom Rides" to bus boycotts to lunch counter sit-ins, these civil actions stirred Americans of all races and backgrounds to join in the fight for freedom.

Today, we honor Dr. King for his courage and resolve to make America's reality match with its ideals.

And in memory of him, this year's theme is "Remember! Celebrate! Act!: A Day On, Not A Day Off."

Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act in 1994, designating the King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of a day off from work or school, Americans of all backgrounds and ages are encouraged to celebrate Dr. King's legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action. In keeping with Dr. King's dream for understanding and brotherhood, The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet; it breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past; it leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships; and it is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for service work.

I encourage all of you to get involved -- and stay involved -- in volunteer service and civic participation.

Our guest speaker this morning is no stranger to service. Dr. Isiah Warner has worked to encourage disadvantaged students to pursue careers in the chemical sciences.

He is also no stranger to NSF. He is a long-time awardee in the Division of Chemistry, and he is also a former NSF rotator.

Dr. Warner currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at Louisiana State University (LSU).

He joined LSU in 1992. And prior to that, he served as assistant professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University from 1977-1982. He joined Emory University as associate professor in 1982 and was later promoted to full professor in 1986.

Throughout his distinguished career as a researcher and educator, Dr. Warner has been issued six patents, with two others currently pending. And, he has more than 260 published or submitted articles.

Dr. Warner has also received numerous honors and awards for his work, including a 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, (PAESMEM) and a 1998 Fulbright Fellowship for Research/Teaching in Keyna.

Dr. Warner's teaching and mentoring of underrepresented minorities is in line with Dr. King's dream of providing equal opportunities for all Americans.

Please join me in welcoming, Dr. Isiah Warner.

1 Dr. Henry N. Blount, Head, Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, NSF Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences.
Return to speech.



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