"For only the fourth time in U.S. history, we are redefining the role of the government and the economy," and the "problem is that Blacks don't know how they will fare," Rep. Parren J. Mitchell (D-Md.) told a Business School audience Saturday.
Speaking in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel at the conclusion of a two-day conference on "Blacks in Corporate America--Challenges of the Eighties," Mitchell urged the 350 B-School alumni, students and guests to combat racism on insure economic survival by founding firms and starting a national Black development bank.
Mitchell, a former chairman of the House Black Caucus, referred to President Reagan's programs to lessen the role of government as a shift as major as the revolution of 1776, the Civil War and the New Deal. He also decried what he said was increasing racism around the country and in Congress, criticizing attacks on affirmative action.
No Free Enterprise
"There is no free enterprise system in the United States" because the presence of racism destroys it, he said. Mitchell, in his keynote speech, challenged his audience to "be so damn good that someone begs you to come with them," adding. "There may be no other way for you to succeed."
Other panelists and speakers at the ninth annual conference also emphasized the difficulties that Blacks face in the business world. Glegg Watson, an affirmative action official at Xerox, Inc., quoted President Bok's Open Letter--"minority students still appear to view themselves as guests in a strange house"--in describing what he said were the comparable feelings of Black managers.
"Some of us could make it singularly--up to a point," Edward Jones, a division manager for Media Markets and a 1972 B-School graduate, said. He urged Black managers in business to form networks with other managers to push for better opportunities.
Several participants interviewed had favorable reactions to the conference, sponsored by the B-School Afro-American Student Union and the Black Alumni Association. Alan Carswell, a first-year B-School student, said the "interaction with the alumni, professionals and deferred and prospective students was worthwhile for all of us."
"I'll know what to expect when I leave the B-School and the students will know what to expect when they come," he added.