The historic setting—Feinstone Lounge inside the nearly 90-year-old Sullivan Hall—only added to the significance of the message delivered during the Fox School of Business’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Networking Event.
More than 80 members of the Fox community joined together to celebrate the school’s history of inclusion and diversity among its faculty, staff and students.
Stained glass ceilings throughout the building told a story of how Temple University was created while Curtis Gregory, assistant professor of strategic management, shared stories of his childhood and the oppression his family faced.
“I had the opportunity to participate in a diversity workshop, and I heard the term ‘black tax.’ It was used in the context of faculty doing extra work. They described the additional burden and work when we are put in spaces to try to fix a problem we did not create,” Gregory said. “When I think about the sacrifices that my father made so that I can stand before you today, I’m willing to pay that slight tax.”
Gregory, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Aubrey Kent, and Diane Turner, curator at Temple University Libraries, spoke to attendees before they headed downstairs to tour the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. The collection is one of the most prestigious collections of African American artifacts in the U.S.
“African-American history is American history,” Turner said as she stood next to Provost Joanne Epps. “And African history is world history.”
The collection displayed business-related artifacts, including newspapers of the Philadelphia Tribune, the first-ever issue of Ebony from 1945 and lyrical notes from Tupac Shakur.
Turner said she had talked to Charles Blockson, who founded the collection, earlier in the day and he sent his greetings to everyone in attendance.
Surrounded by elegantly-framed paintings of presidents from Temple University’s past, Kent thanked attendees for their contributions in making the Fox School a welcome space for all.
“It isn’t just about ticking a box on a checklist of activities in a strategic plan,” he said. “It’s really about living through what we believe, which is that the Fox School is for everyone, just as Temple is for everyone.”
That was the takeaway from the event. Any lock of nervousness between incoming attendees was broken by a desire to create memories and friendships. Diversity must not be an exception, but the norm.
“If you don’t know where you come from, you cannot know where you’re going,” Turner said.