The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship at Brandeis University was created in 1968 as a result of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the subsequent occupation of Ford Hall and the 10 demands of January 1969.
Beginning in fall 2016, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship has been renamed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Program. In an effort to acknowledge the many contributions of these students across campus and beyond, the new name is meant to recognize the holistic experience of the program, which reaches well beyond tuition assistance.
According to Professor Jacob Cohen of the American studies program, a group of black students went to founding president of Brandeis, Abram Sachar, and demanded five MLK scholarships. Believing that this was not enough, Sachar created 10 MLK scholarships for African American students.
Members of the Brandeis Afro-American Society continued to fight for equality through the occupation of Ford Hall and the 10 demands, which were brought forth by spokesmen Ricardo Millet '68 and Roy DeBerry '70 among other black students and members of the Afro-American community on campus.
The demands essentially sought to create more black control within university programs in the interest of the black community at Brandeis University. This included the development of the African and Afro-American studies department (since renamed Africa and African American studies), the Transitional Year Program (now the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program) with a black director, the hiring of more black professors and recruitment of more black students.
Although the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship was originally only available to black students, it is now available to students of all backgrounds on the basis of merit in line with the missions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.