On June 4, the reverend Al Sharpton appeared at the first public memorial for George Floyd and delivered a stirring eulogy, one that served as a bridge linking the personal grief of the slain man’s family with America’s history of racism and violence against Black people.
He presented a long, devastating account of the ways Black Americans have been metaphorically pinned down—physically, spiritually, and economically—just as Floyd had been suffocated by the Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck. “We were smarter than the underfunded schools you put us in, but you had your knee on our neck,” Sharpton said. “We could run corporations and not hustle in the streets,” he also said, “but you had your knee on our neck.”
Leon Prieto and Simone Phipps, two management professors and the authors of African American Management History (Emerald Points, 2019), were watching that afternoon from Atlanta. They found that last statement profound, they later told me, because it pithily encapsulated the reality of running African American businesses in the United States. It also spoke to what Prieto and Phipps see as their role in the Black Lives Matter movement: connecting the dots between the philosophies of historical Black business leaders—whose ideas, values, and traditions have been left out of the management canon—and America’s racial inequities today.
Culled from Quartz