“Islamophobia: A Threat to All” Presented by Dalia Mogahed

Darden Students, Dr. Marcus Martin, and Dean Melissa Thomas-Hunt with Dalia Mogahed this past Friday, January 27th

This past week, Darden had the honor to co-sponsor a talk held by Dalia Mogahed as part of this year’s MLK Community Celebration. Dalia Mogahed is Chairman and CEO of Mogahed Consulting, a Washington, D.C. based executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in Muslim societies and the Middle East. She is also the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). Dalia was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, where she served on the Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation Task Force. She was invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about U.S. engagement with Muslim communities, and she provided significant contributions to the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group recommendations. She is also widely known for her TED Talk, “What it’s like to be Muslim in America” in which she asks viewers to fight negative perceptions of her faith in the media, and to choose empathy over prejudice.

What is islamophobia?

Islamophobia is a term for prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam or Muslims. The term gained traction in the late nineties leading up to the September 11th attacks, and the sentiments have persisted since. Mogahed’s talk entitled, “Islamophobia: A Threat to All” illustrated how islamophobia opens the door to other forms of bigotry.  She explained the ways in which islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other prejudices are all inextricably linked. In her talk, Mogahed deconstructed islamophobia in America specifically. Why is there so much islamophobia in America? She speculated that one of the biggest reasons is terrorism. She looked at American public opinion of Islam and data of terrorist attacks between 2001-2013. She reports that islamophobia spiked in the run up  to the Iraq War and before 2 election cycles, but not just as a function of  actual terrorist attacks. Mogahed suggested that Islamophobia is a thriving industry in the U.S. and our media is biased in the content it produces in an effort to increase fear within consumers. Mogahed analyzed that 80% of the media content surrounding Islam is negative in comparison to 73% pertaining to North Korea, a designated Enemy of the State.

Stating, “Fear makes us more accepting of authoritarianism, prejudice, and conformity, “ Mogahed put forth that Islamophobia in the West has added more fuel to the fire; however, it is important to note that islamophobia transcends Islam. In terms of ethnicity, Islam is the most diverse religion. There is no such thing as a “typical” Muslim. Muslims with strong religious identity are more likely to have a strong American identity; piety equates to patriotism. Additionally, Mosque attendance is linked to greater civic engagement. Fear should be replaced by looking at the vast ways in which Muslims contribute to society.

What To Do?

Mogahed wrapped up her talk with a list of five “to-do’s” for those in attendance. 1) Challenge bigotry. She noted the importance of preaching to those who are not in the choir. Many of the audience members were there on their own accord and she urged us to educate our friends (Facebook and real), colleagues, and peers who were not in the room about the far-reaching consequences of islamophobia. 2) Call out bias media coverage. Mogahed encouraged the audience to not only post about biases on social media, but to also reach out to journalists and editors who publish the content. 3) Recognize Muslim contributions to America. It is essential that we realize the positive impacts of Muslims in our environments. 4) Build coalitions for a stronger more pluralistic America. During a time in which is seems as though all oppressed groups are under attack, it is essential that coalitions are made, bridges are built, and gaps are closed. Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ Rights, and Women’s Rights all have a place in the fight against islamophobia, and the intersectionality of minority oppression can be used to create stronger resistance and change. And finally, 5) VOTE.

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University of Virginia Hosts Anita Hill as Keynote Speaker for 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration


The University had the pleasure to host Professor Anita Hill as the keynote speaker for this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration at The Paramount Theater. Professor Hill became a national figure in 1991 when she testified against Clarence Thomas, who was nominated to succeed retiring Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall on the  Supreme Court. Professor Hill’s testimony gained national recognition, and she soon became the target of character attacks from the nation. Many claimed her accusations to be “completely unfounded” and that she was merely seeking attention. Thomas stated that he was being subjected to a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” Ultimately, the United States Senate confirmed Thomas to the Supreme Court by a vote of 52-48, the narrowest margin since the 19th century. Despite the verdict, Professor Hill continued to tell her story, even though it sometimes fell upon deaf ears. During the most difficult time of her life, she was accused of “betraying her race” and being a delusional woman. Professor Hill’s experience is an embodiment the difficulties many women of color face. As a black woman, Professor Hill inhabits intersecting identities that equally shape the ways in which she interacts with the world. Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw contextualizes the various identities women of color possess, the oppressions that afflict each individual identity, and the ways in which those various oppressions come together to create an overarching “intersectional” identity. In the context of Professor Hill, she faced scrutiny not only as a woman who accused a man of sexual assault, but also as a black woman who “betrayed” her race by coming forward against a prominent black man.

The theme of this year’s MLK Community Celebration was “silence as betrayal,” and the decision to have Anita Hill as the keynote speaker could not have been more fitting. During her speech, Professor Hill expanded on the importance of using your voice. She stressed that even in the most seemingly difficult times, it is always better to speak up than remain silent. Although her case took place in the early 90’s, it still maintains relevancy to this day. She gave an antidote to the country’s current political climate, and the increasing importance of exercising your voice. Professor Hill remained hopeful in the future of advocacy and the country’s progress towards inclusion and acceptance. Currently, Professor Hill teaches Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University. Anita Hill’s courage to stand up against the most powerful court in the country and brave the ensuing wrath of hate and ignorance reflect that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She influenced many women to stand up against the injustices they face daily, and continues to do so through her advocacy. In particular, she awakened the country to the silence thrust upon women of color in instances of sexual violence. Anita Hill reminded the country why silence will always be an extension of betrayal to one’s self and to social justice.


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Sunday Jan 29th Darden Students and Faculty Marched for Muslim, Immigrant and International Student Rights

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Undergraduate School Hosts Diversity Town Hall

This past Friday, undergraduate students across the University came together to host a Diversity Town Hall organized by a fourth-year student, Atia. Students and administrators alike participated in various workshops held throughout the day in which they discussed important topics surrounding diversity at UVa. Topics included Course Curriculum, Addressing Implicit Biases, Faculty Diversity and Admissions, to name a few.

I had the pleasure to participate in the workshop on admissions, during which we tried to tackle the question, “How can UVa increase its outreach and set itself apart to attract and retain diverse talent?” In order to effectively answer this question, we first had to humble ourselves and break down the current undergraduate student demographic as it currently stands: ~13% Asian, ~6.5% Hispanic/Latino, ~6.5% Black/African American, 0.1% Native American, ~63% White. When the numbers were further analyzed, it was noted that yield rates take a heavy toll on the student demographics. With that said, what can the University do to increase attraction and retention of minority students? We are aware of the myth surrounding the “typical UVa student,” and in some cases it may hinder recruitment efforts. The admissions office has to consciously target students that would otherwise not apply to UVa for various reasons. Programs like the Outreach Student Admissions Committee (OSAC), run by Valerie Gregory, are setting the bar for aggressive prospective minority student recruitment. One participant suggested that UVa take on early outreach programs across the state, in an effort to excite students about the college process and plant the UVa seed as early as possible across a diverse population of students. College preparatory programs like Urban Prep, POSSE, and Prep for Prep should be at the top of the University’s radar.

The Diversity Town Hall was a step in the right direction for the Undergraduate school. The Dean of Students, Alan Groves, was present along with faculty and administrators from across the University, like Dr. Michael Mason from The Office of African-American Affairs. When thinking about diversity and recruitment, the University should consider what it can do to set itself apart from its counterparts and competitors. Going the extra mile to find students unfamiliar with the University of Virginia name may prove to be vastly rewarding in the long-run.

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Uniquely You: Finding Your Professional Calling

This Thanksgiving week, I would like to thank those who attended the career discovery panel and workshop entitled “Uniquely You: Finding Your Professional Calling” that I organized and hosted this past Wednesday, 16 November 2016. I would also like to thank those who supported financially, logistically, and with words of encouragement. This event was the manifestation of two desires: (1) to help my Darden classmates, many of whom have voiced uncertainty about their post-MBA career plans, identify and pursue a meaningful career beyond simply repaying school loans; and (2) to expose the Darden community to broader diversity, not only of gender and cultural background, but also of thought and experience.

As we reflect on this past U.S. presidential election and all the lessons we have learned about leveraging diversity in Leading Organizations in Q1, the insights that many attendees walked away with and later shared with me would not have been possible without the stories shared by our exceptional guests.  First, the courageous journey of a woman and refugee from the Liberian civil war who experienced the highs and lows of banking from Goldman Sachs to a front-row seat during the collapse of Bear Stearns.  Second, the decision of a woman to walk away from a six-figure “dream job” to take on an MBA coaching role with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a non-profit diversity and professional development organization partnered with the top business schools and companies globally, while pursuing her passion for yoga and receiving a certification in mindfulness.  Finally, the path of a woman who overcame rejection after a seemingly successful internship at Google to cultivate a career in social media at NPR and become the voice of inspiration for female entrepreneurs through her podcast, Side Hustle Pro.

This Thanksgiving week, I hope we all can appreciate the diversity, in one form or another, that each of us brings to the Darden experience.

Wishing you all a warm and bountiful Thanksgiving!

Courtney Harris

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Statements from the Darden School, the Darden Student Association and Darden’s Black Business Student Forum

Today, the Darden School, the Darden Student Association and Darden’s Black Business Student Forum released the following statements:

 Statement from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The personal comments made by University of Virginia adjunct lecturer Doug Muir on his personal social media accounts do not in any way represent the viewpoint or values of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

A core value of the Darden School of Business is a supportive and diverse community that encourages its members to collaborate and excel. At the Darden School, we value and respect all identities, commit to engaging members of the Darden community as unique individuals, and promote a multicultural, global and inclusive environment in which each person feels valued.

This week, we have celebrated Diversity Week at Darden, which has provided an opportunity to appreciate what each person brings to the community — and to dialogue about how diversity impacts our learning community and our lives. Organized by Darden students, with the participation of the entire community, the week has included lectures, open dialogues and creativity expressed through media such as this video.

As a school within a public university, we respect and recognize people’s rights, including their First Amendment right to free speech. As an institution of learning, we also recognize that diversity of opinion is foundational. However, the personal statements made by Doug Muir regarding Black Lives Matter do not represent the views of this School.

At Darden, we embrace the challenging discussions surrounding diversity, equality and justice that face our society because it is our mission to develop leaders who are prepared to lead responsibly through the most difficult issues confronting business and the world.

Statement from the Darden Student Association

Darden Community,

It is of serious concern to us that one faculty member — Douglas Muir — has taken it upon himself to publicly express views which are factually and historically inaccurate and which are undeniably intolerant — link to UVA Cavalier Daily.

The DSA has worked hard in collaboration with student clubs, community stakeholders, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader Darden community to foster and promote a culture which elevates and celebrates diversity and inclusion. Diversity Week has been a tremendous celebration of this spirit and a marquee week in the DSA calendar. We are proud of our community, and the grace with which it has worked to foster and maintain Darden’s core values.

The values of our community exist in striking opposition to Doug Muir’s stance. We vehemently disagree with his statement and we call upon the University of Virginia and the Darden School of Business to respond swiftly to uphold our values of inclusion, equality, and a dedication to truth and accuracy.

It is the mandate of the DSA to represent the best interests of the Darden student experience. We take this mission extremely seriously and will not stand for intolerance which directly affects our classmates and those around us.

Statement from the Black Business Student Forum

On October 4th, 2016, Douglas Muir, adjunct Professor at the Darden School of Business and the University of Virginia, posted the following message to Facebook: “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist organisation since the clan. Are you kidding me, Disgusting!!!”. This comment does not in any way reflect the Darden community. However, mindsets like these have the potential to significantly impact the positive community we seek to foster and protect. Presumably, the statement was in response to the recent presence of Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, as a speaker on grounds at the University of Virginia.

Mr. Muir’s statement likens Black Lives Matters’ decision to exercise their First Amendment right to gather to the actions of the Ku Klux Klan – an organization which has bombed churches, murdered men, women, and children, and violently protested such proposals as the integration of schools and the extension of the right to vote to African Americans.

Mr. Muir’s comparison of Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan is outrageous. Black Lives Matter was founded as an expression of Ms. Garza and others’ justified discontent with the experience of many African Americans. The Ku Klux Klan is an organization with a 100+ year history of murder, racism, and intimidation of innocent people. No protest can compare to the terror which the Ku Klux Klan has inflicted upon citizens of our community.

This week was a monumental week for diversity at Darden. Not only did we have great attendance at our event on racial injustice, but we also stood together as One Darden and wore black to represent solidarity. This progress will not be overshadowed and discredited by the comments of one faculty member. The kind of inaccurate and offensive comments made by Mr. Muir threaten to damage the inclusive community that the student body, alumni, Dean Beardsley, and the faculty and staff of Darden have worked hard to foster.

The ignorance of Mr. Muir’s statement speaks for itself. Our goal is to urge the University of Virginia to respond to its own faculty member’s expression of blatantly incorrect views and demonstrate its commitment to enlightenment and intellectual honesty by correcting this false message. This is an opportunity for Darden to stand behind its commitment to an inclusive community.

How Darden reacts from an administrative level will have a huge impact on how students view their experience at Darden. We believe in what Darden represents and we would hate for Mr. Muir’s actions to damage our unique and welcoming community. Mr. Muir is entitled to his opinion, no matter how ignorant it is. He is not entitled to his own facts. We are hopeful that the actions that the University of Virginia takes in response to Mr. Muir’s comments will reflect its commitment to truth and an inclusive environment.

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It’s Time to Talk: Engaging Across Difference

It’s 2016 and we are connected across the globe, and in our own backyard, in ways that many of us could not have imagined, even just 15 years ago. We now have a window into the lives of others who may have experiences and perspectives that diverge significantly from our own.

Both exhilarating and scary, peering through the window can open our eyes to new ways of thinking, new places, new people, and their triumphs and struggles. However, those who will lead in business and society, more broadly, must be more than onlookers. We must engage! We must be willing to have conversations across our differences. The harrowing events around the world have catalyzed such conversations, yet many of us remain fearful of saying the wrong thing when examining and engaging difference. The concerns become most heightened when we discuss race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and identity, culture, religion, class, and the ensuing politics. Leading in our global world will necessitate that we step outside our comfort zone and wrestle with uncomfortable topics and issues.

The world has always been textured (i.e., diverse), but previously it was easier to focus on our own familiar domain. Diversity is a topic that has always been important, but it has taken the spotlight in America and across the world like few times in history recently. It is a challenging topic that kindles differing perspectives, passionate opinions, and sometimes — sadly — hate and violence.

I have dedicated much of my life’s work to the complex issues surrounding diversity, including conducting research on unconscious bias. As Darden’s Global Chief Diversity Officer, a spouse/partner, a mother and a Catholic African-American professional woman of southern, Irish and Caribbean heritage, I want to continue to facilitate a productive dialogue around diversity, inclusion and engagement through the new Diversity at Darden blog.

I hope to share my thoughts here, and also the thoughts of others inside and outside of the Darden community. To start the conversation on this platform, I’d like to share a note Darden Dean Scott Beardsley and I sent to our community in July after a rash of violence and terror swept the globe. It expresses our desire as a School to not shrink from a challenging subject, but to lead and overcome fear.

I look forward to your thoughts, and to our continuing dialogue here on Diversity at Darden.

Melissa C. Thomas Hunt

An email to the Darden community from Dean Scott Beardsley and Senior Associate Dean & Global Chief Diversity Officer Melissa Thomas-Hunt

Dear Darden Faculty, Staff and Students,

Yesterday afternoon, we hosted a community dialogue to reflect on the recent string of difficult global events and their impact on each of us. From the conversation, it is clear that for many of us the recent and frequent acts of violence and terror around the globe have been overwhelming – generating anger, fear, sadness and dismay, and leaving us bereft of a sense of what we can do to make a difference.

Over the past weeks and months we have written to you about atrocities around the globe. Today we are reaching out more broadly to provide solace about the recent horrific shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas that have fueled mounting racial tensions in the United States. Our hearts go out to the individuals who in this recent spree of terror in the United States have lost a son, father, brother, significant other, colleague or partner and the broader communities – geographic, demographic, and those in law enforcement and military – that ache. Many in our own Darden community are struggling to make sense of the events, and we find ourselves unsure of how to share our feelings with and provide comfort to one another.

In volatile and difficult times like these, we must remember to continue to lead.  We must overcome our fear; fear of accidentally saying the wrong thing, fear of offending others and fear of inviting conversation not deemed appropriate for a business school, business or any organization. At Darden we nurture global leaders who understand and can navigate local contexts. Each of us has our own local context, informed by our background and experiences. It is through our own local context that we interpret the events around us. This means that any objective event will be experienced differently by individuals. Part of who we are and aspire to be necessitates that we must engage with one another in meaningful ways across the differences in our interpretation.

Darden is a community of leaders, and it’s critical that we gather to provide support for all members of the community, that we ask each other questions and learn from each other, and that we create safe spaces for sharing concerns. We’d like to thank everyone who came yesterday and to assure those who could not — including our students who will return in August — that we will provide additional opportunities to continue the discussion.

Darden’s Senior Associate Dean & Global Chief Diversity Officer Melissa Thomas-Hunt, in collaboration with our students, will put in place a framework for discussion and is open to your suggestions.

As a reminder, Darden and the University of Virginia offer many resources for those seeking individual support, an ear or an opportunity to lead the conversation.

At Darden, students, faculty and staff can continue to reach out to Sarah Wilcox-Elliott and her team in the Office of Student Affairs, and Lisa Cannell and her team in Darden Human Resources. Additional resources are listed on the Diversity at Darden webpage.

Some additional resources available at UVA include:

At Darden we are leaders and we have an obligation to engage with one another in meaningful dialogue and with positive intent, both in the classroom, at school and away from school, in our internships, jobs and communities.

Given the increasing frequency of attacks in the USA and globally, we do not intend to communicate on each and every event via email. Instead, face-to-face community dialogues led by Melissa and her team, as well as a variety of student leadership organizations, will be used to provide support for members of our community. However, know that we always check on the safety and well-being of our students, alumni, faculty and staff wherever they may be, and will communicate any necessary information as appropriate.

We look forward to continuing the conversations, and thank you for your leadership to help Darden live up to its full potential as a globally diverse, inclusive and wonderful community.

Sincerely yours,

Scott and Melissa

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Why Diversity and Inclusion are Important to Me

This post was originally written by Nathan Guo, First Year student and international and diversity student advisory group representative. You can read more about his experience at Darden in his student blog.

“This year, I was honored to be elected as Section D’s international and diversity student advisory group representative. What this means is that I will be meeting with the International Student Advisory Group (ISAG) and the Diversity Student Advisory Group (DSAG) to facilitate conversations about diversity and inclusion at Darden, advocate on behalf of international students, and promote understanding and awareness to build a stronger Darden community. To be elected, I submitted a statement to explain why diversity and inclusion are important to me. I want to share this piece to provide my perspective.

I am passionate about connecting people of different ethnicity, religion, sexual orientations, or any other label people use to put people into buckets. No matter what your background, each one of us is the same. We’re all human beings with hopes and dreams, successes and failures, triumphant wins and heart-crushing defeats. I’d like to tell you a personal story of one of my heart-crushing defeats that I hope will show why I’m so passionate about connecting people of different backgrounds.

On July 4th, 2011, I was celebrated Independence Day by driving 190 miles to Austin to meet up with some high school friends from Dallas. Over the next several hours we reminisced about the past, caught up on each other’s lives, and had a blast watching fireworks. After I’d had enough, I took my leave and started walking back to my hotel.

Suddenly, a car screeched by. A man leaning out the window yelled at me, “GO BACK TO CHINA!”

Go back to China? I’ve lived here all my life. Am I Chinese? I thought this was home. I thought I belonged here. Am I American? Who am I?

Am I Chinese? Over the last four years, I have spent a substantial amount of time working abroad in China. Even though I speak Mandarin fluently, my Taiwanese/American accent was obvious and Chinese people could always tell that I was not Chinese. They could tell even before I even opened my mouth by the way I dressed. I am not Chinese.

Am I Taiwanese? Although, I have relatives in Taiwan, I cannot even communicate with my grandparents because I cannot speak the local dialect, Taiwanese. While I’ve visited Taiwan many times during my childhood, it’s never felt right to me. The very environment seems to reject me. Too hot. Too humid. Too many mosquitoes. It’s as if the entire climate of Taiwan is trying to make me recognize that I don’t belong there. I am not Taiwanese.

Am I American? I worked at a chemical plant with mostly blue-collar workers. Here I am even more different. Not only am I a different ethnicity, I am the ethnicity that is stealing jobs from them. They associate me with the Chinese sweatshops that are taking food off of their tables. I tell them I’m in the same boat. I’m fighting to keep a job in America as many engineering jobs are getting outsourced to China. They can’t see past my skin color. I am not American.

After the incident, I posted a status update about it onto Facebook. I was instantly flooded with sympathetic Facebook messages and texts. In times of crises, none of these labels matter. I am not Chinese or American, Christian or Buddhist, Republican or Democrat. I am a human being with friends and family that love and support me through thick and thin. I am passionate about diversity and inclusion because they are essential to the development of strong bonds that will last beyond the time we are here at Darden and endure across cultural, religious, and political borders.”

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Love Is Love 2013

It is quite unorthodox to quote Barney, that big purple dinosaur that children watch on television, on a business school blog. However, I am reminded of his “I Love You” song at this time of year. It is not because we are in the month that celebrates Valentine’s Day…. or at least not completely. It is more because the Gays, Lesbians, Allies at Darden (GLAD) club does a special series of activities and events to bring the community together around topics related to living, working and loving for LGBTQ members. We just closed out a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and perhaps his oft quoted “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” is an appropriate theme for these activities. At Darden, I believe, we simply want to celebrate every member of our community no matter where they come from, what faith they practice, how they look or who they love. So, perhaps an even better theme is “Love Is Love”. (Humming the Barney song….)

Darden celebrates Love Is Love 2013 through the following activities:
Entire month of February
Photo exhibit by Jeff Sheng featuring images of military personnel in response to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and its repeal. www.jeffsheng.com

February 10
Screening of “Out at Work” and discussion to follow about workplace scenarios involving the LGBT community

February 13
A Safe Space training to help allies support those members of the community who are LGBT and a panel discussion on Religion and Same Sex Marriage in partnership with religious affiliated affinity clubs at Darden

February 14
Love Is Love First Coffee with remarks made by Professor Martin Davidson and a panel discussion on Life After Don’t Ask Don’t Tell featuring Jeff Sheng and Military LGBTs and their partners.
Glad sponsors the community-wide Cold Call, a social hour.

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Darden joins in UVA’s MLK Celebration

The Darden MLK Celebration Planning Committee is happy to present the Darden 2013 MLK Celebration activities sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Darden in partnership with the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics.

Remembering MLK and “I Have a Dream”
January 22, 9:30am First Coffee
Dean Bruner will make remarks, Committee will make announcements, “I Have a Dream” speech video will play on loop throughout the day.

Panel Discussion
Theme: Free Enterprise: From Montgomery to Main Street
January 25, 4:30 – 6:00pm Darden School Classroom 50
Significance of business ownership in social justice and community empowerment from Civil Rights era to present day.
Greg Fairchild, Darden Professor
Claudrena Harold, UVA History Professor
Uday Gupta, Darden alumnus and entrepreneur
Toan Nguyen, Darden Alumnus and Entrepreneur

Brown Bag Lunch
Business and the Poor
January 31, 1:30 – 2:30pm CR 30
Informal, round table discussion about role of business in addressing poverty using MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign as foundation.

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