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Black history and its importance to MBA students

By Amy Brothers, MBA Class of 2024, and William Horton-Anderson
Monday, February 13, 2023

This Black History Month, which happens every February, Full-Time MBA students wanted to discuss important figures in the Black community that made a positive impact on their lives. These stories and these historical figures give everyone a look and an education into people that helped shape the culture that we live in today. However, there is always more work to be done, and these students are leading the way for the MBA program and Broad College.

Adam Hayes (he/him/his)

Adam Hayes headshot

Adam Hayes (MBA Human Resources and Strategic Management ’23)

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Broad News: How will you celebrate Black History Month this year?

Hayes: I will celebrate Black History Month by touring the All Around the African World Museum in Lansing. I hope that other MBA students will join me.

Broad News: Which historical figure in Black history would you say has made a significant impact on your life today? Why?

Hayes: Before I dive deep into answering this question, I think it is important to mention my grandmother, Ada Hayes. In the early 1950s, my grandmother resided in Marianna, Florida, with her three children. While commuting home from work, my grandmother and great-grandmother witnessed a Black man lynched by a white mob. This was an all-too-common evil injustice often rooted in hate, entitlement and greed.

Just 30 years earlier and roughly 200 miles away, the Rosewood Massacre took place. The event caused widespread fear among African Americans in the Deep South. My grandmother and great-grandmother had enough of the lynchings and extreme racism in Marianna and decided to move the entire family to Miami, Florida. I would suggest that this decision by my elders saved my life. My father was 1 year old at the time, and my grandmother wanted to ensure that he and my aunts were raised in a community where they could live without fear.

Lynching has been a disenfranchising practice that has claimed the lives of thousands of African Americans. The hard work and contributions of Ida B. Wells, American journalist and hero, cannot be forgotten and should be celebrated. I hope to honor her hard work and sacrifice with this write-up.

Broad News: Can you share more about their profession and how that impact may have changed how you think or approach life?

Hayes: Ida B. Wells was perhaps the most important African American journalist of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born as a slave, she was vital in the effort to call out racial injustices of white mobs and law enforcement in the Deep South through her pamphlets that cataloged over 240 lynchings.

Wells’ catalogs were insightful because they shed light on the myth that Black men were raping white women. From her research into lynchings in Arkansas, Louisiana and Georgia, Wells discovered that the lynchings had been used as an “excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized.” Decades later, my elders would feel that same terror and move the family to South Florida. From my knowledge of Wells’ work, its essence is rooted in defending those who can no longer defend themselves, like Black Wall Street victims, Emmett Till, James Byrd Jr. and George Floyd. As a result, I am inspired to do right by others, stay informed, live without hate and address injustices as they arise.

Wells’ fight against racial injustice would end in 1931 after a long battle with kidney disease. However, another win would be achieved due in part to her hard work. The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act was passed into federal law in March 2022, multiple decades after Till’s and Wells’ deaths. This is yet another indicator that proper due diligence is not being upheld on issues that impact many Americans in this country.

Saloni Prachande (she/her/hers)

Saloni Prachande headshot

Saloni Prachande (MBA Supply Chain Management & Finance ’24)

Hometown: Pune, India

Broad News: Which historical figure in Black history would you say has made a significant impact on your life today? Why?

Prachande: My first ever role model was Venus Williams, immediately followed and overtaken by Serena. They both were so hardworking and rose from such hardships, I was curious to learn more. (Encyclopedia.com describes sisters Venus and Serena Williams as “the two most prominent African American female tennis players since Althea Gibson (1927–2003). Participating in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by white people, they have been ranked among the top players in the world of tennis, and they have introduced a style of play that combines power and grace in a way never before witnessed in professional women’s tennis.”)

Also a huge Will Smith fan, and honestly it was while watching Fresh Prince that I learnt about the history of hardships when they spoke about Malcom X on the show. (Malcolm X, who Britannica.com notes was born Malcolm Little in 1925 and later known as Malik el-Shabazz, was “an American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a prominent figure during the civil rights movement. A spokesman for the Nation of Islam until 1964, he was a vocal advocate for Black empowerment and the promotion of Islam within the Black community. A posthumous autobiography, on which he collaborated with Alex Haley, was published in 1965.”)

Broad News: Can you share more about their profession and how that impact may have changed how you think or approach life?

Prachande: I made a conscious effort to educate myself and really connect with people around me who could share real-life experiences and help me understand biases. And I hope to continue on this educational journey with the Black MBA Association, so again, really looking forward to more events and networking opportunities.

Amy Brothers (she/her/hers)

Amy Brothers headshot

Amy Brothers (MBA Supply Chain Management ’24)

Hometown: North Carolina

Broad News: How will you celebrate Black History Month this year?

Brothers: I will celebrate Black History Month by honoring the strong role models in my life by sending them a note of thanks.

I plan to tour the All Around the African World Museum here in Michigan, and as a small tradition, each year I watch the movie Polly with featured actors Phylicia Rashad and Keshia Knight-Pulliam. Lastly, I will complete the last chapter in the book Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors by Marian Wright Edelman.

Broad News: Which historical figure in Black history would you say has made a significant impact on your life today? Why?

Brothers: Edelman, born June 6, 1939, in Bennettsville, South Carolina, made a significant impact on my life. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. In 1964, she was the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi State Bar and worked to register voters in the deep, segregated south of Mississippi.

Edelman is an advocate for children and civil rights and is the founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund, an organization focused on education, child health, youth justice and child poverty. There’s much that I could share about Marian Wright Edelman, but it is her heart for humanity, tenacity and strength, drive and action for change, work for unity and her understanding of the wealth found in mentorship that inspires me as a woman of color.

Broad News: Can you share more about their profession and how that impact may have changed how you think or approach life?

Brothers: In Edelman’s book Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors, she shares several profound statements that have shaped how I think and how I respond to life matters. I’ve decided to share just a few of them here:

  • “All children need adults who believe in them and expect them to achieve.”
  • “Music, like kindness, is a universal language that transcends race and place.”
  • “I learned that I could travel the world without losing my moral compass and common sense. I learned to be comfortable in strange lands and in places with people of a different language, who worship God in many different ways and have different political systems and ideologies, but have same human longing for freedom.”
  • “Sometimes one has to do things that you don’t like to do in the short term in order to achieve greater gains in the long term.”
  • “Education, like money, is another means to help to improve the lives of others.”
  • “God, make me strong in purpose, will and goodness. Show me what I must do and help me to unfalteringly do it.”

Alyse Hines (she/her/hers)

Alyse Hines headshot

Alyse Hines (MBA Supply Chain Management ’24)

Hometown: Jackson, Michigan

Broad News: How will you celebrate Black History Month this year?

Hines: This year, Black History Month will be celebrated by my family gathering and reflecting on those who came before us. Each year, we try to learn about someone new who invented something or was instrumental in influencing today’s society. Black History Month and our celebration has always been about recognizing and honoring the people in our family, community and world who helped us become who we are today.

Broad News: Which historical figure in Black history would you say has made a significant impact on your life today? Why?

Hines: Shirley Chisholm and her life story have had a profound impact on my life and the way I approach my career. Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was the not only the first Black woman in Congress in 1968 but also the first to seek presidential nomination from one of the major parties. She is one of the major Black historical figures I keep at the forefront of my mind as I strive to reach new heights and be impactful throughout all facets of my life.

Broad News: Can you share more about their profession and how that impact may have changed how you think or approach life?

Hines: Chisholm exuded intelligence and showed courage to step up and tangibly make a difference in the lives in which she was fighting to change. Fittingly monikered “Fighting Shirley,” she refused to back down on issues of race and gender equality. The principle I hold onto the most is that she was unafraid to be the first. She did not just dare to dream; she had the audacity to seek and pursue positions no Black woman had previously held.

Personally, this has become my own ethos as I pursue my career goals. It is incumbent upon me to use every skill and talent I have to be impactful wherever I may be. Throughout my career, I endeavor to share in Chisholm’s audacity to blaze a new path for those who will come after me.

Doyle Ford (he/him/his)

Doyle Ford headshot

Doyle Ford (MD/MBA Healthcare Management ’24)

Broad News: How will you celebrate Black History Month this year?

Ford: I plan to celebrate Black History Month by participating in community service throughout the month and engaging in community talks to further highlight the excellence that has come before me.

Broad News: Which historical figure in Black history would you say has made a significant impact on your life today? Why?

Ford: Charles R. Drew, an African American surgeon and researcher in the early 1900s, made a great impact in medicine through his research on blood transfusions, innovating the field of hematology. As an aspiring surgeon and African American male, the adversity and challenges that Drew overcame to reach success has paved a way for me and others in my community to be successful in medicine.

Broad News: Can you share more about their profession and how that impact may have changed how you think or approach life?

Ford: Drew’s research in hematology contributed to the development of blood banks in World War II that saved the lives of many soldiers and continues to save lives today. During the war, he used his voice to speak out against the racial segregation of the donation of blood. His boldness and tenacity inspire me to dedicate myself to becoming a physician and to ensuring equity.

Bryce Chatman (he/him/his)

Bryce Chatman headshot

Bryce Chatman (MBA Human Resources and Strategic Management ’24)

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Broad News: How will you celebrate Black History Month this year?

Chatman: For Black History Month this year, I plan on being intentional with my engagement in opportunities and events focused on celebration of Black history. I plan to continue supporting Black creators and innovators and using this time to celebrate, recognize and uplift my community.

Broad News: Which historical figure in Black history would you say has made a significant impact on your life today? Why?

Chatman: A historical figure in Black history who has made a significant impact on my life is Frederick Douglass. In the last few years, I read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and it helped me gain some perspective on his story and how perseverance was a continuous theme throughout his life. This reminds me of the importance of continuing to persevere in my own life and the bigger picture of what I represent.

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