AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Forthrightly Addresses Current Racial Tensions, Says ‘the dialogue must start with me’

Addressing 1,700 resource group members, Stephenson discusses all the tough issues — and in an honest, forthright, personal and humble way.

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious—and based on his 16 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

Addressing 1,700 resource group members, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson discusses all the tough issues — and in an honest, forthright, personal and humble way.

In this talk, Randall Stephenson forthrightly addresses Black men being shot, police being shot, BLM (his discussion of BLM is better than any I’ve ever seen or read) and how to truly love thy neighbor.

The talk is in context to business, but it’s really about life itself and how to be successful.

Please watch the whole thing — and note the crowd’s reaction.


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  • I know this man should be greatly appreciated for being a leader of a major corporation in America and stating his conclusion of what he failed to realized having had constant contact with a Black man and never really knowing him. His comments were indicative of what people are afraid to learn about each other. There are some White people who dare to get to know Black people, and there are some Black people who dare to get to know White people. I am not a prejudice man, but knowing White people socially has never been at the top of my list and it certainly is not there now. I hope this is the beginning of a true dialogue that can create a more healthy environment in this country. I do not expect, nor do I care, if I am liked by White people, they just need to know that I will accept nothing less than respect from them as this has always been my way of dealing with them. White people need to understand that the days of Blacks requiring their approval to breath is over as well. I do not respect them because they are White and powerful, which the powerful part has never been my thought, I respect them because they are human beings and although some of them have inflicted a great deal of harm on my people, all of them has not participated in this atrocity. I wish the best for the people in this country, but we need to make a difference or it will become a country that would be intolerant for all to live in.

    • ” I am not a prejudice man, but knowing White people socially has never been at the top of my list and it certainly is not there now.”

      “I do not expect, nor do I care, if I am liked by White people,…”

      ” I wish the best for the people in this country, but we need to make a difference or it will become a country that would be intolerant for all to live in.”

      I say to you: perhaps you should begin with yourself. If you don’t care if White people like you, and let’s say they don’t, then what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to make this country more tolerant if you don’t care.

  • Frank McCloskey

    This is very impressive and stands as a model for other top organizational executives to follow.

    Thank you for sharing Luke.

    • I think what we’ve forgotten in the U.S. is long before slavery began there were Africans, Europeans and Native Americans living side by side in North America without an agenda of “race” – but when it became profitable the most corrupt enslaved not only kidnapped African nationals but European immigrants as well to their ideology of “racism” for greed and power. I once believed racism was “real” however now I realize it is manufactured by the most godless among men for their corrupt greed – and they enslave others to fear by playing to the most base of human emotions – unnatural hatred. The ideology that the more “they” have less “we” may have is unnatural because man is created by a perfect Divine Creator whose creation – Earth – is replenished and can never be “unending” unless it is corrupted by greed and Deadly Sin. Man has alot to learn about Deadly Sin because it is a Pandora’s Box much like the Garden of Eden from which man was expelled for sinning against the Divine Creator – the corrupt and greed-obsessed are much like the snake Lucifer urging man to defy our Creator for man’s gain of “the knowledge of good and evil”.

      Combining “Christianity” with “racism” and unnatural hatred – and terming it “Christian” is as far from Christianity as one can ever get – keeping in mind it was the Hebrews – a black race with origins in Jerusalem – whose relationship with “The G-d of the Hebrews is the basis for “Christianity in the first place. It is blasphemy – not Christianity that has assuaged the conscience of those that have been led astray by the corrupt and who are ignorant of the roots of Christianity caring more for delusions that reality. I also find it unimaginable those who claim “superiority” is based in the Scriptures yet rely on the corruption of Scripture for godless greed and desecrate the most sacred of Emmanuel’s holy sacrifice as symbols of hatred and ignorance – in other words they blaspheme against holiness because their ancestors were led astray by the corruption of those with the most to gain – those who would be “kings” in North America by way of crimes against humanity.

      It may be too late to “change”.

  • This is one of the most powerful thing I have ever listen to! Randall Stephenson is a true leader and inspiration. He is a role model for all CEOs. His honest reflection about his own experiences should serve to open frank and honest conversations throughout this country!

    Thank you Mr Stephenson!

  • I will be sharing this video! Great start and moving in the right direction!

  • I’ve watched this speech at least 5 times and it resonates with me just the same as it did while listening to it in that room at our diversity conference – like a good Sunday sermon. It truly caught me by surprise that evening. Many of us are still emotional which shows that we’ve been hurting while coming to work throughout so much chaos in our country. It still may not mean anything to many employees who are set in their ways and refuse to engage in open and respectful dialogue but at lease all 270,000 of us know exactly where our CEO stands on the matter.

  • Randall Stephenson’s speech was refreshing and enlightening. Like MelRod, I NEVER socialized outside of a work environment with whites or boasted of having WHITE FRIENDS like some Uncle Tom blacks are proud of. WHITE FRIENDS, like WHITE CHRISTIANS is an OXYMORON, an extreme contradiction of terms that’s a virtual impossibility in RACIST AMERIKKKA!
    . Unlike his friend Chris, I put whites (including white KKKhristians) who try to become “friendly” with me, through the “John Brown, Nat Turner and Malcolm X” tests; they all fail miserably–therefore, I don’t let these slimy white snakes get any closer. At 61, when most white males or females try to become “friends” with most Blacks, trying to GET SOME SEX is involved (I restrained myself from using the slang terms for the female and male anatomy). That’s why I don’t trust or never had any white friends. Lesbian white females are WORSE than white males in approaching black women for sex. When they say they want EQUALITY with white men, they’re really saying that they want to be oppressive, lewd, lascivious BIG-BALLERS like their filthy white sexually harassing white men conquering black flesh! Black Lives Matter only laying down or laying pipe in their bedrooms, not their professional boardrooms! That’s why I NEVER had any perverted white friends, including lewd white KKKhristians (they’re missionaries who prefer the missionary position with so-called “black savages.”)
    . After living 20 years in AmeriKKKa, I don’t understand how Uncle Tom Blacks like Clearance Thomas, Barack Insane O’Bama, Juiced O.J., ” White Men’s WHOOPIE Cushion”, Tiger [Out in the] Woods, and Dennis Little RODman proudly boast of having white fiends as “friends,” knowing the savage, uncivilized nature and history of whites in AmeriKKKa and abroad! I graduated from a white KKKhristian university and they were the most RACIST, SEXUALLY LEWD, FILTHIEST white folks I ever met. If they were supposed to represent the BEST of white folks, I knew it was impossible to have any white friends. The white Catholic (Jesuit) and later Jewish law school was even WORSE! I jumped out of the Racist white KKKatholic skillet into the equally white RACIST JEWISH fire! White people are INBRED RACISTS and have very LOW CHARACTER as a “race”; therefore, I never would have such fiends as friends! I don’t understand how blacks can attend, be members of, or sit under WHITE LYING PREACHERS who only opened their doors to blacks to pimp their paychecks to pay off their multimillion-dollar, megachurch mortgages! Unlike Stephenson, they’re not preaching “Black Lives Matter,” but telling parishioners to pray for KKKops (modern day black slave hunters and KKKillers)!
    . How can you call anyone “friend” and NOT KNOW about the racist indignities they’ve suffered? Why would a black man who suffered Southern racist oppression be a member of a white church where he had to educate these white KKKhristian racists? Racism in AmeriKKKa (and everywhere) has caused most blacks to suffer one or the following disorders: P.T.U.T.D.: Post Traumatic UNCLE TOM Disorder, P.T.W.S.D: Post Traumatic White Supremacy Disease or P.T.S.D.: Post Traumatic Slave Disorder. Like racist whites, it’s hard to find black friends who are not afflicted with one of the above disorders.

    Black Lives Matter because we’re the targets and the victims of white KKKiller KKKops. If we were as uncivilized and savage as white racists, there would be a bloodbath during and after slavery.

    • ZaziJams comment is exactly why people will never get it together. Xenophobia: It’s a human thing.

  • Michael Walker, Esq.

    I can certainly appreciate the speech! Let’s see if it resonates in the form of more folks of color in the AT&T C-Suite and Corporate board seats. I read your article some time ago regarding what Mr. Shultz was attempting to do at Starbucks so I would suggest the same holds true with AT&T.

    • Can you find a speech that Mr. Schultz has done that compares in any way with Randall Stephenson’s speech? I sure can’t – and Mr. Schultz seems to have withdrawn from the issue since he received criticism over how he handled it.

      Starbucks does not participate in our Top 50 competition.

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