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“We were just doing what needed to be done” | Harvard Business School

“We were just doing what needed to be done” | Harvard Business School Four alumni recall the forces and factors that drove them to found the African-American Student Union, a vehicle for change that would have immediate—and lasting—impact

Clifford E. “Clif” Darden, Lillian Lincoln Lambert, E. Theodore “Ted” Lewis Jr., George R. “Bob” Price, A. Leroy “Roy” Willis, Harvard Business School, Harvard Business School African American Student Union, African American Student Union, AASU, African American Education, African American News, African American History, Black History, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D

Just over 50 years ago, at the end of a summer that saw race riots across the United States as well as the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall as the first African American Supreme Court Justice, five African American students arrived at HBS. What they encountered—a predominantly white, male campus—seemed out of step for the times and the liberal Northeast. Their deep disappointment led to a resolve that catalyzed an increase in the number of black students at HBS, the hiring of black faculty members, and the creation of more socially relevant electives. By establishing the African-American Student Union (AASU) in 1968, the five founders also hoped to support incoming black students and enhance their educational experience. Little did they know that their call for change would result in a legacy that would have lasting impact at the School.

This year HBS is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the AASU by Clifford E. “Clif” Darden (MBA 1969, DBA 1982), Lillian Lincoln Lambert (MBA 1969), E. Theodore “Ted” Lewis Jr. (MBA 1969), George R. “Bob” Price (MBA 1970), and A. Leroy “Roy” Willis (MBA 1969). In commemoration of this milestone, four of AASU’s founders (Price died in 2012) reflect on their time at the School, the creation of the organization, and the importance of having a student body that mirrors the real world.

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