As part of the unique value Goizueta Business School brings to MBA students, the school links student teams with major corporations to solve real-world business problems. In late 2020, that impact spread to more than 100 national student teams who entered the first John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition.

MBA students led by Willie Sullivan 21MBA began forming the case competition in summer 2020 in response to police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement. Their organizing mirrored what Lewis (1940-2020) did as a college student in the 1960s.

By King Week 2021, when judges determined top student teams—and Emory MBA students finished second—the competition extended the economic legacy of Lewis’ courageous crossing of Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. 

“Racial justice and business success are not mutually exclusive, and in fact are connected,” said Bonnie Schipper 23JD/MBA, a member of the runner-up team with Rutendo Chikuku, Bryan Shepherd and Simone Trotman, all 22MBA. HP welcomed the team’s bold ideas for providing Black suppliers more access to capital, networking opportunities, and economic metrics. The team won $10,000, and half of prizes went to racial justice community nonprofits.

Other corporate sponsors and finalist teams included: Johnson & Johnson (University of Southern California Marshall Business School, winner of the $20,000 grand prize), Salesforce and Southern Company (two teams from MIT), Truist (Harvard Business School, $10,000 Audience Prize) and Walmart (Yale School of Management). SurveyMonkey and Poets & Quants provided support. “This competition came together so quickly, and a force of will made it happen,” Sullivan said of the volunteers, including former Lewis chief of staff Michael Collins 15MBA.

Learn more about the next John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition.