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Base Celebrates MLK Legacy

Dr. Wanda Austin, president and chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation, was the featured speaker at the annual Martin Luther King Day luncheon, Jan. 30. (Photo by Lou Hernandez)

Dr. Wanda Austin, president and chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation, was the featured speaker at the annual Martin Luther King Day luncheon, Jan. 30. (Photo by Lou Hernandez)

Los Angeles Air Force Base -- The Space and Missile Systems Center personnel celebrated and honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with a special luncheon, which took place at the Proud Bird Restaurant in Los Angeles, Jan. 30. 

Dr. King was known for his efforts to bring awareness to equal rights and for his famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered in Washington D.C. in 1963. He was a leader of the American civil rights movement and was also the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated on the balcony of his motel in Memphis, Tenn., April 4, 1968, while he prepared for a protest march. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill proclaiming the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday, near Dr. King's birthday of Jan. 15. The first holiday was observed in 1986. 

The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Dr. Wanda Austin, president and chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation here in El Segundo, Calif. She recently took over the position Jan. 1 as Dr. William Ballhaus Jr. retired after many years of association with the aerospace community. Dr. Austin has been with The Aerospace Corporation since 1979 and was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2007. 

Dr. Austin spoke to a very attentive and excited crowd at the luncheon, which theme was "Remember, Celebrate and Act." 

"It is my hope that you will take a moment today in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday," she said, "... to think beyond the day off ... and to live the dream of making a difference - learn, maintain your integrity and give back." 

The luncheon was attended by more than 180 people from Los Angeles AFB, The Aerospace Corporation and local communities. Attendees included Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, commander, Space and Missile Systems Center; members from the Tuskegee Airmen; and community leaders.