Byron Allen addresses antisemitism, the need for unity in speech at Harvard Business School

The media mogul also discussed the critical need to improve the nation’s educational systems and services for vulnerable citizens.

Media mogul Byron Allen addressed racial disparity in corporate America and educational inequity as he accepted the inaugural “Legendary Honor” during a conference hosted by Harvard Business School’s African American Student Union.

But Allen, chairman of Allen Media Group, didn’t limit his remarks to systemic racism in corporate America and schools. Before an audience of prominent Black leaders, executives, financiers, influencers and future leaders, Allen addressed antisemitism and the historic and beneficial relationship that has existed for decades between Black and Jewish Americans.

The African American community owes the Jewish community a huge debt of gratitude for its support through the years and particularly during the Civil Rights Movement, said Allen whose company owns theGrio. Both communities must remain united to fight racism, antisemitism, and sexism, he continued as he reminded the audience that Martin Luther King, Jr. taught the world that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

Byron Allen delivers acceptance speech for receiving Inaugural ‘Legendary Honor’ at Harvard Business School’s African American Student Union 50th Annual H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference on February 24, 2023. (photo credit: Ed Marshall Photography for Gravy/AMG)

Allen received the honor Friday at the 50th annual H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference, which recognizes the contributions of African American leaders and addresses key issues such as wealth creation, leadership, business ownership and societal equity.

Allen used the opportunity to address additional social and economic challenges as he: encouraged pivoting from talking about crime to discussing how to improve education systems and improve economic inclusion; addressed eliminating what he described as the greatest trade deficit in the nation – the trade deficit between white and Black corporate America; and providing adequate social services to people who are unsheltered, mentally ill and hungry.

“I am truly honored and extremely grateful to the Harvard Business School for presenting me with the inaugural ‘Legendary Honor’ award,” Allen said. “The 50th Annual AASU H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference was an inspirational event featuring some of America’s best and brightest minds focused on one of our most important goals — achieving one America.”

Allen’s comments about societal challenges aligned with the purpose of the award and validated why Gravy – an education and investment platform for underrepresented professionals – selected him as the first recipient.

“Mr. Allen has transformed the media industry and is a trailblazer addressing critical issues regarding African American economic inclusion,” conference co-chairs Lauren Thomas, Quintin Haynes, and Temi Olonilua said in a joint statement before the conference.

Gravy’s founder amplified that sentiment after Allen’s address.

“In accepting Gravy’s inaugural Legendary Honor and his keynote speech, Byron Allen articulated a powerful vision for one America, inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, to achieve its full potential through economic inclusion for all,” said Gravy founder, Brandon William Jones. “Mr. Allen delivered a clear path forward and a rousing call to action for America. His words will serve as a blueprint and resonate for years to come.” 

The business school’s African American Student Union hosted the two-day conference, which concluded Saturday. Allen also delivered the conference’s opening keynote speech on its final day.

The conference featured three different events, according to the event website.

Friday’s Black Tech Summit, for aspiring entrepreneurs, explored “topics related to fundraising, scaling your business and navigating the tech industry.”

The Black New Venture Competition, Harvard’s largest venture competition, focused on “Black pre-seed and seed-stage entrepreneurs.” Founders pitched their ventures to a panel of judges for a chance to win more than $200K in non-dilutive capital.  Companies that receive non-dilutive capital don’t have to give up equity in their company.

The conference concluded with the student union’s flagship event, the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference, which brings together “alumni, current students, and other professionals for a full day of panels, keynote addresses, and social networking,” according to its website.

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