Peter Rodriguez, senior associate dean for degree programs and
chief diversity officer, addressed students, faculty and staff
members who gathered at the University of
Virginia Darden School of Business First Coffee celebration in observance of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. with these words:
"I ask that you reflect on this seminal leader, especially as
you ponder your own leadership. King's legacy and impact were broad
and far-reaching — touching not just African-Americans, but all
Rodriguez recalled his favorite King speech, delivered in 1967
in Philadelphia, in which King told a group of students that the
way in which they work determines the dignity in what they do.
King said: "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep
streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like
Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings
before the Metropolitan Opera; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote
poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and
earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper
who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the
hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the
side of the hill."
Rodriguez asked the crowd to acknowledge the dignity of others
so that they too can strive to always be their very best.
"Everything that we do bears our signature," Rodriguez
Second Year MBA students Nicholas Gross, president of the
Black Business Student Forum (BBSF), and Axel Starke,
president of the Black Graduate and Professional Student
Organization and BBSF officer, also spoke.
Gross recalled his days in elementary school when he would join
others in singing the Negro spiritual We Shall Overcome.
He would often wonder, "What was it that we needed to
As he grew and became more acquainted with the world, he
understood that society had a long way to go in reaching full
equality for all of humanity. He encouraged his classmates and
fellow members of the Darden community to reach out to those who
are different, discover what makes them unique and prepare to have
their stereotypes dispelled.
"Many of you may have heard about the rant made by Richard
Sherman, Seattle Seahawks corner back, against his opponent San
Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree," Gross said.
"Because of his remarks, he was called many stereotypical names
such as 'thug' on social media networks."
Gross informed the audience that Sherman in fact does not fit
the stereotypes held of some young, black professional
"He came from a good two-parent home, graduated from college
with a degree in communications, and volunteers to help young
people bring out their personal best," Gross said.
Gross does not condone the negative remarks that Sherman made,
but he doesn't believe that Sherman deserved the stereotypical
labels mentioned in social media.
As the country discusses this incident, Gross suggested that
people examine the whole person instead of developing fixed views
based on one moment.
"I challenge you to seek out others who are different from you
and tear down your stereotypes," Gross encouraged.
Starke invited the community to attend an MLK gathering to be
hosted by the Black Graduate and Professional Student Organization on Wednesday,
29 January, in Darden's Abbott Center Auditorium.
The presentation is titled, "Black.White / Rich.Poor / Male.Female:
The Roadmap for Me to Pursue My Dreams." It will be held at
A viewing of King's I Have A Dream speech followed
the morning's remarks.
In line with MLK activities, Darden Dean
Bob Bruner's latest blog post, "
Living Into the Challenge: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.," explores how transformations change
About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is
one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D.
and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience
combines the case study method, top-ranked faculty whose research
advances global managerial practice and business education, and a
tight-knit learning environment to develop responsible and complete
leaders who are ready to make an impact.
For questions or information, contact Abena
Foreman-Trice or a member of the Communication team.
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