In a speech at the Harvard Business School Career Alumni Conference yesterday, renowned international Black activist Randall Maurice Robinson emphasized the need for Black awareness of Contemporary Political issues.
"We are runners in a larger race," Robinson a Harvard Law School graduate told an audience of about 90 students. "What you don't know will kill you. What you know and don't act on will finish the job."
The Harvard Business School (HBS) African-American Student Union invited Robinson to speak as part of a forum called "Colllective Advancement: Moving Beyond Individual Achievement."
Robinson said he fears that Americans suffer from a "McDonald Syndrome" When reacting to disasters in such places as Haiti, Somalia and Ethiopia. He suggested that American too easily accept pre-packaged information from the media and fail to understand the historical causes of social problems.
"Democracy is rooted in an enlightened citizenry," Robinson said.
Robinson reminded the audience of Haitian involvement in the American Revolution when Haitians gave their lives to help achieve American freedom.
"We owe Haiti," he said "We had a major part in fouling it up and now we must have a major part in fixing it up."
Robinson stressed the need for Black HBS students to generate capital for Black institutions..
"If you summed up the total of all Black business you would come up with Quaker Oats," he said "We have a long way to go amass capital."
Robinson implied that American Blacks will help those abroad by first enhancing their political and economic power at home.
"As we stand up, they stand up; as they stand up we stand up," he said. "We will all stand up together or we won't stand up at all."
Dr. Virgil A. Wood a pastor and senior associate of Tawall Development Group, came from Rhode Island to hear Robinson speak. The two men became friends as under-graduates at Virginia Union.
"Robinson has done the outstanding work of 10 people. He's one of the most important people on this planet," said Wood a graduate of the Harvard School of Education.
Robinson is director of the African and Caribbean lobbying group, Trans Africa. He fasted for 27 days to protest president Clinton's refusal to allow Haitian refugees into the United States last year.
According to a pamphlet distributed at the conference Robinson said at the time, I am prepared to risk my life of it might spare thousands."
Robinson's efforts compelled democratic Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to tightenthe trade embargo against Haiti and reverse therefugee policy.
Robinson also lead the protest at the SouthAfrican Embassy nearly a decade ago which "spawnedthe antiapartheid movement in the United States,"according to the pamphlet.
In an interview following the speech, Robinsonsaid the issues he will address this year includethe restoration of democracy in Nicaragua andsecuring aid for Cuba.
Robinson told students that they must berelentless in their pursuits. "I have never beenone for turning the other cheek," he said."Turning the other cheek simply means you'll getslapped twice."
The HBS Career Alumni Conferences offer currentstudents perspectives from the outside world,creating "highly ethical students with globalperspectives who would prosper throughoutcountries world-wide," said second-year studentLee Holly