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‘Why Not Win?’: Speaker Larry Thornton visits UWG to celebrate black history in business

(Last Updated On: February 6, 2024)
The University of West Georgia’s Richards College of Business commenced Black History Month last week by celebrating Black history in business with a luncheon featuring guest speaker Larry Thornton.

by Abby Grizzard

The University of West Georgia’s Richards College of Business commenced Black History Month last week by celebrating Black history in business with a luncheon featuring guest speaker Larry Thornton. 

Thornton, an artist, entrepreneur and author of the book “Why Not Win?,” captivated the audience with his insights into overcoming adversity and achieving excellence in the face of challenges. His journey from a childhood in segregated Montgomery, Alabama, to becoming the president and owner of Thornton Enterprises Inc. and the first Black franchisee of a McDonald’s location in Birmingham resonated deeply with the audience. 

“We were thrilled to have Mr. Thornton join us and share his inspiring journey during our Black History in Business Luncheon,” said Dr. Christopher Johnson, dean of the Richards College of Business and Sewell Chair for Private Enterprise. “His insights into resilience and determination serve as invaluable lessons for our students and community, especially as we celebrate Black History Month.”

Thornton seeks to inspire those lacking belief in their futures by voicing the lessons he has learned during his life and career. One of the earliest lessons was taught to him by his high school English teacher, who introduced the idea of a college education and Thornton’s immense potential. 

He went from struggling through the integration of Montgomery’s Goodwyn Middle School in 1967 to graduating from Alabama State University in 1976 and later being named chairman of ASU’s board of trustees, a true example of overcoming in the face of adversity.

The experiences he accumulated taught him to question, “How can we take atrocities, learn, and become better for it?” 

“There is something about getting back up after embarrassments, humiliations and wounds that make winning that much sweeter,” said Thornton. “Work to conquer your former self and then allow the new you to conquer the world.” 

Along with Thornton’s keynote remarks, attendees enjoyed a catered lunch by Dine West and a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the electric violin by UWG student Camille Brown.

Thornton’s book is now the inspiration for the Why Not Win Institute, a platform dedicated to leadership and professional development. Through his book and initiative, Thornton continues to inspire individuals to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

“You have now been born, so you have to live,” proclaimed Thornton. “Why not win?”