UVA Darden Black Business Student Association’s Starter Guide to Understanding the Black Experience

By Jay Hodgkins

The Black Business Student Association (BBSA) at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business has been a champion for the wellbeing and interests of Black students at the School for more than 40 years.

This year, the BBSA is led by President Emily Kelly (Class of 2021), a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow and Forte Foundation Fellow, and Executive Vice President Jesse Wilkinson, who also serves as an interviewer for Darden student admissions and on the board of the Darden Consulting Club. A Howard University alumna, Kelly worked in the education and nonprofit sectors prior to Darden, fueled by her passion for expanding opportunity and wealth for marginalized groups. A Brigham Young University graduate who serves on the board of the university’s Black Alumni Society, Wilkinson worked in financial services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before Darden.

Among its many activities, the BBSA steps forward each February during Black History Month to bring programming and events to the Darden community designed to showcase the richness of Black culture and celebrate the accomplishments of Black individuals.

This February, the BBSA encouraged the Darden community to “persistently seek understanding about the Black experience” and offered an online guide to help get started. A small sample of the suggested content in the guide includes:

What to Watch

  • Academy Award-recognized movies Moonlight, Boyz N The Hood and Malcolm X
  • Emmy Award-winning television series Atlanta, Insecure and Black-ish
  • Emmy, Peabody and Sundance Film Festival-winning documentaries 13th, I Am Not Your Negro and Good Hair

What to Read

  • Novels I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Mothers by Britt Bennett
  • Nonfiction books Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander 

What to Listen to

  • Podcasts 1619 from The New York Times, Historically Black from The Washington Post and APM Reports, and Code Switch from National Public Radio
  • Grammy Award-winning albums and music artists Lemonade by Beyoncé, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye and Aquemeni by Outkast

Given recent incidents of racial injustice that led to widespread protests for justice and equality, as well as the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, BBSA leadership this year decided not to hold formal programming for its annual Black Business Experience Week, as club leadership explained in a letter to the Darden community.

This year would have been the third installation of Black Business Experience Week. However, this has been no ordinary year. We have witnessed multiple crises play out on the global stage that have amplified the ways in which Black people remain bound to struggle and continue to fight for dignity against institutions that were never meant to serve or include us.

The focus this year, BBSA leadership said, should be on Black joy.

In light of all that’s transpired, we believe it is important to extend Black students the time and space to lean into activities that energize them and not be burdened with the responsibility of educating or entertaining others. We commemorate the efforts of Carter G. Woodson to organize a dedicated moment each February to recognize the integral role of Black people in our society.

Read the BBSA’s full letter and the online guide on the Diversity at Darden blog.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia