Minorities in Business:

The following facts paint a harsh picture of the situation many African Americans face in today’ssociety.

o The typical black family had 60% as much income as a white family in 1968, but only 58% as much in 2002.

o One in nine African Americans cannot find a job. Black unemployment is more than twice the white rate – a wider gap than in 1972.

o African Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population but constitute 47% of the prison population.

o The High School dropout rate for blacks is 40% higher than that for whites.

Faced with these statistics, an interdisciplinary group of African American students in Boston and Cambridge has decided to take action.

Several RC students from the African American Student Union (AASU) generated the idea for the Business Plan for Black America while thinking about how to increase the impact of AASU beyond the HBS campus and the greater Boston area. Jibreel Lockhart (ND) spearheads the project for HBS and feels that it is deeply critical for business students to get involved with community development. “We too often rush out to apply our energy and our learning to other people’s businesses,” he said. “As an organization we felt it time to address the problems in our own community.”

In order to take a strategic look at all aspects challenging the black community, a team from AASU has developed a partnership with other graduate students from the Law School, School of Public Health, and Kennedy School to examine the economic, educational, political and cultural issues at hand.

The aim of the Business Plan for Black America is to build a better understanding of interrelated issues that impact the black community, as well as the existing solutions to address negative systemic challenges and strengthen positive action within society. The project will build a coordinated, cohesive strategy for African-American success in the 21st century. This success covers all areas of business activity in which the African-American community must thrive to drive real change. The Business Plan for Black America focuses on leveraging both profit and not-for-profit organizations that address the economic, social and political issues facing African-Americans. Some organizations which have contributed to the empowerment and growth in influence of the African-American community include NAACP, Fannie Mae, Congressional Black Caucus, and Black Enterprise.

Professor David Thomas, who serves as Course Head for Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD), advises the students on the project.

Under his guidance, the students will publish a detailed strategic plan of action that will guide future economic, educational and political development in African American communities.

By using the collective talents of African-American graduate students, the project provides a tangible way to drive action and involvement in the community. The Business Plan for Black America represents a much needed step in guiding the black community towards economic reaffirmation and equal representation in the greater society.

March 1, 2004
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