Dean Nance with

Dean Nance with Clarence Jones

On the 15th, I was invited to attend Wal-Mart’s 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The theme was “Realizing the Dream: A Call to Action.” I have come to enjoy my visits to Wal-Mart’s Home Office because so many of our alums work there. It’s always fun to see them and to catch up with what’s going on in their lives. So in addition to what is typically a very good program, it’s a really wonderful time to reconnect with our alums. I was scheduled to arrive at the Wal-Mart Home Office lobby at 10:00 a.m. so that I could be signed in as a guest and escorted to my seat by Jasmine Gregory. I had a tough time finding a parking space, so I didn’t get there until about 10:15 a.m., but the program didn’t start until 11:00 a.m., so that was okay. The program consisted of: Welcome -Josephine La Fayette, VP, Diversity Programming, Wal-Mart; Special Performance -Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir; Introduction of Speaker -Sirtric Dilworth, Audit Committee Liaison, Wal-Mart; Speaker – Mr. Clarence B. Jones, Civil Rights Advocate; Special Performance -Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir; Introduction of Speaker -Raymond House, Compensation Analyst, Sam’s Club; Speaker -Dr. Fitzgerald Hill, President, Arkansas Baptist College; and Occasion – Mike Duke, Vice Chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.


Left to Right: Kendra Buford, Sonya Dodson, Tene Green

Before the program began, I had an opportunity to meet one of the keynote speakers, Mr. Clarence B. Jones, a civil rights activist who served as speech writer and counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr. He was the first African-American to become a partner of the Wall Street Investment Banking Firm of Carter, Berlind & Weill, Inc. Through his work in the civil rights movement, Mr. Jones dramatically impacted the course of American history. He coordinated the legal defense of Dr. King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference against the libel suits filed against them and The New York Times by the Montgomery, Alabama, police commissioner and other city officials. The Supreme Court ruling in this case – Sullivan v. The New York Times – resulted in the landmark decision on the current law of libel. Mr. Jones spoke about the fact that it was the 80th birthday of Dr. King. He was impressed that Wal-Mart would take time to reflect and pay tribute. He quoted Dr. King’s words, “We will remember not the words of enemies, but the silence of friends.” He talked about his book, “What Would Martin Say?,” and described Dr. King’s role in history this way, “prior to Dr. King, America was like an addict hooked on the toxism of racism. Dr. King embarked on an extraordinary journey of detoxification therapy such that America could recover its soul.”


Dr. Fitz Hill

The other keynote speaker was Dr. Fitz Hill. Some of us know him from his time here at the University of Arkansas when he served as a graduate assistant football coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Dr. Hill is now the 13th president of the 124-year-old Arkansas Baptist College. He is co-founder of Life CHAMPS Youth Sports and Sports Management Agency, which strives to use the platform of sports for the positive development of young men and community development. He also earned a bronze star in Desert Storm. Both speakers were very good, but one of the most memorable moments was the way Dr. Hill opened his remarks. He said that he had been told when giving remarks to be good, be brief, and be gone. That really stuck with me. He was very warm and very funny. He challenged us to not make the day a memorial, but to make it a living dream and to go out and do something about living Dr. King’s legacy. He talked about leadership principles. He said that the holiday and the observance of Dr. King’s birthday should not be about us, it should be about serving others. The focus should be purpose – P is for passion, U is for unity, R is for responsibility, P is for perseverance, O is for opportunity, S is for service and E is for enlarge. I enjoyed both speakers.


Eduardo Castro-Wright

After the speakers, there were a number of Visionary Awards presented by Charlyn Jarrells Porter, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Wal-Mart: Community Award – Jones Center for Families, Dr. Grace Donoho; Company Award – Working Mother Media, Carol Evans; and Corporate Award – Sam’s Club. The awards were followed by Closing Remarks by Eduardo Castro-Wright, Vice-Chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. After the program, I had a chance to visit with a few of our alums before heading back to the office.

That afternoon I met with Associate Deans Beard and Kilpatrick and also our Budget Director, Lynn Stewart, in response to the Chancellor’s request that we look at our budget and figure out ways to tighten our belt. The Chancellor has a Cost Containment Task Force and eventually we will have to share our plans with the task force, so we sat down for a very serious meeting around that issue. Later, I was supposed to go to a girl’s night with alumna Kathryn Shurlds, but the weather turned bad – sleeting and very cold – so that was canceled. Frankly it was good to be able to hang out at home.