B-school Students Discuss Impact of Million Man March
by Trudy V.M. Gygi, MBA2
Last Wednesday night fifteen men and women shared their thoughts,
misconceptions, and questions about the Million Man March. The Million Man
March on October 16th in Washington D.C. was an all-day event initiated by
Louis Farrakhan that focused on building a stronger community among
African-American men. The B-school follow-up discussion was sponsored by the
Michigan Diversity Council.
The group included first-year and second-year MBAs as well as one B-school
alum. The dialogue was intended to be an open environment where "hot" topics
could be discussed and students could learn from each other's experiences.
Topics ranged from the lack of general B-school discussions about the Million
Man March to the U.S. educational system.
Although no participant of the discussion had been able to join the march in
D.C., the group supported the togetherness that the "marchers" seemed to
portray. One of the participants said that he had spoken to men who attended
the march and that one of their main take-aways was the support and friendship
that the marchers had for each other.
One of the most discussed topics was whether or not one could separate the
message of the Million Man March from the messenger, Farrakhan. The B-school
group talked about their beliefs regarding the message of the march,
Farrakhan's activities and speeches, the media's interpretation of Farrakhan's
actions, and the need for a dialogue among the country's leaders.
The discussion, although beginning with the Million Man March, covered a
variety of current social issues. A few of the participants shared personal
stories of discrimination, and many expressed hope for the African-American
community and the people of America. The group addressed the long-term
implications of the march, and one person suggested that Detroit's success in
curbing fires on Devil's Night was partly due to the swell of community
involvement created by the march.
Another topic that the group talked about was one's individual role in bringing
change to the country's race relations situation. Joan Johnson, MBA2,
summarized her views, "We must always ask why. So often we focus on what and
not why. One way we can each make a difference is to get involved in our
educational system. Children, especially, need to be encouraged to look below
the surface of what they hear and see."
Greg Johns, MBA1, said, "The goal of discussions like this is not to have
everyone share the same views, but to become aware of other people's views and
why they feel a certain way. We should base our views on fact and not
stereotypes or misconceptions." Karen Glover, MBA2, initiated the discussion
group and was pleased with the frankness of the participants. "People felt
comfortable saying what they really felt," she explained.
In conclusion, the group shared their concern that the B-school is not openly
discussing important current events enough. They agreed, though, that last
week's small group discussion was a step in the right direction. "It was
interesting that we talked about how the country really needs a dialogue. I
felt that we were starting that type of dialogue here at the business school,"
remarked Glover. The Michigan Diversity Council is willing to sponsor more
discussion groups and is open to ideas from anyone.