“What are you passionate about?” asks John Hope Bryant.
Under the late winter sun outside Stevens Hall, he’s surrounded by three Gettysburg students from different majors who share a common interest in entrepreneurship. They’re curious about his views on economic inclusion, social justice, and how they can make a difference in the world.
Jean Dorelus ’22, from Chicago, asks him about the job market today, noting he dreams of being an independent investor. He points out to Bryant that racial bias still exists in the hiring process at many companies. For that reason, he wants to be his own boss.
In response, Bryant offers encouragement, which he’ll do many times before this day ends: “African Americans should have a bias towards excellence.”
Bryant’s core message cuts across race and class. His candor stems from a desire to talk openly about the more urgent questions of our day: income inequality, climate change, and racism. These themes were at the heart of his Feb. 26 lecture at the annual Economics Finance Symposium, presented by Gettysburg’s Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation Initiative and the Hanson Lecture Series.
Bryant’s talk offered a fresh perspective on Abraham Lincoln’s Reconstruction-era economic inclusion work via the Freedman’s Bureau, which some consider America’s first financial literacy program. It provided critical aid to freed slaves in the wake of the Civil War.
As founder and chairman of Atlanta-based Operation HOPE, Bryant speaks worldwide on what he calls the “Power of Doing.” It’s a business philosophy driven by a passion for social justice—a message that aligns perfectly with the spectrum of courses offered by Gettysburg’s economics and organizational management studies departments.
Read the rest of the Gettysburg College piece here.