History Department
History Department

Year in Review: Juliet E. K. Walker’s Scholarly Contributions and Community Outreach Efforts make Significant Impact

Mon, October 7, 2019
Year in Review: Juliet E. K. Walker’s Scholarly Contributions and Community Outreach Efforts make Significant Impact

Professor Juliet E. K. Walker, considered the foremost scholar in Black Business History in America, is the founder and director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CBBH) at the University of Texas at Austin. She has published cutting-edge research that has provided the foundational elements for the development of Black Business History as a viable and respected subfield in higher education. Professor Walker’s contribution to Black America’s historic experiences is inclusive of contemporary issues involving racial economic discrimination and disparities. 2019 has also been a banner year for Dr. Walker as her involvement in community issues and outreach, both locally and nationally, continue to impact black business futures.

Walker serves as Board President for the Austin-based Minorities for Equality in Employment, Education, Liberty and Justice Center (MELJ), which seeks to provide resources for at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated persons. Earlier this year, Dr. Walker, along with MELJ Executive Director/Founder Latreese Cooke, met with Austin District 1 City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison about the work of the Center, its services for Austin community residents, and the need for funding for the organization. Dr. Walker spoke specifically to the possible economic impact the successful re-enfranchisement of persons that are “returning citizens” could have in any community in which they’d live, since the MELJ Center is looking to obtain funding that is not dependent on government entities solely because it limits the ability to expand/build stable programs.

“Dr. Walker has served on the Board of Directors for MELJ Center for 12 years in various roles,” remarked Cooke. “Initially starting as just a member and then taking on offices and roles since serving. She has led the Board into a place of recognizing the impact the organization has as being one of the initial agencies that started asserting ‘re-entry’ ‘resources’ before it was a buzzword. She is the appointed spokesperson aside the Executive Director for all major presentations discussing the work and needs of MELJ Center.”

As founder/director of CBBH, Professor Walker has worked with Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce (TAAACC), headed by Charles O’Neal who is also the new chairman of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. Board of Directors. At the 31st TAAACC Annual Conference last month, Dr. Walker presented on behalf CBBH and TAAACC the Texas Black Business Hall of Fame inductee awards during the organization’s “Best of the Best” Luncheon.

TAAACC advocates on behalf of the over 250,000 Black-owned businesses in Texas, promotes the development and enhancement of local Black chambers of commerce, and supports business members in a wide range of industry sectors, while interacting directly with the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government to influence public policy. TAAACC’s goal is to continue being an informational "think tank" for its members, thereby strengthening, stimulating and providing positive advocacy, while disseminating useful data that is beneficial to Black-owned businesses and the communities they call home. View photos of the 2019 TAAACC conference here.

This year Professor Walker has also participated in a number of conferences and panels, and served as a consultant on a major PBS documentary showcasing the role of African American entrepreneurship in the U.S.

“Black Business is increasingly becoming a broad issue of concern and an area of interest for academia,” noted Professor Walker. “Ultimately, when it comes to racial economic equality, we ask ‘Where do we go from here?’ And equally important: ‘How do we get there?’”

Below are just a few presentations Dr. Walker offered in 2019:

  • Invited to present at the “The Future of Black Institutions” conference at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center last March, where she delivered a talk on “African Business Participation and Racial Capitalism: Is the Past Prologue,” in March.
  • Spoke at the 33rd Annual Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights at the University of Texas at Austin in May, on “Racial Capitalism, 1950-2019; Where Do We Go From Here?”.
  • Discussed the history of Black business at the Austin African-American Book Festival, hosted by the George Washington Carver Library and Museum in June.
  • Served as Advisor, 2017-2019, for the PBS documentary BOSS: THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN BUSINESS. BOSS recounts the untold story of African American entrepreneurship, where skill, industriousness, ingenuity and sheer courage in the face of overwhelming odds provide the backbone of this nation’s economic and social growth. The documentary premiered last April on PBS; stream the full episode here.

Dr. Walker's work has continued to be featured at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.). She is currently at work completing a book on Oprah Winfrey for Harvard Business School Press.

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