Can a vanilla ice cream company fight white supremacy & lead radical change? Outgoing Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim makes the case

Jostein Solheim has just stepped down as CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after eight years at the helm of this iconic progressive company. He took the job a decade after the company’s purchase by Unilever, and some worried that Ben & Jerry’s might retreat from its social mission. Instead, Solheim doubled down: during his tenure, Ben & Jerry’s became a certified B Corporation, signed an agreement with Migrant Justice called “Milk With Dignity” to protect and empower migrant dairy workers, and reduced chemical use within the company’s supply chain. Ben & Jerry’s is now among the only corporate sponsors of the Poor People’s Campaign, continuing work started by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., more than a half century ago. Solheim is now directing Unilever’s North American food and beverage operations. He reflects on blending business and activism, fighting white supremacy and poverty, and making great ice cream. (August 29, 2018 broadcast) 

Jostein Solheim, CEO, Ben & Jerry’s, 2010-2018

Poor People’s Campaign: Dr. Bernard LaFayette on MLK’s last battle

Dr. Bernard LaFayette, chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is a giant of the civil rights movement. In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King appointed LaFayette to be National Coordinator of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign, King’s final grassroots mobilization. Dr. LaFayette worked closely with King and was with him just hours before his assassination in Memphis in 1968. LaFayette has carried on King’s mission ever since.

Dr. LaFayette visited Vermont in June 2018 as part of the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, which is being marked by a new poster display about the campaign at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury. The display is from Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. LaFayette talks about who Martin Luther King was, his relevance today, and why King expanded his efforts from civil rights to fighting for all poor people. (July 11, 2018 broadcast)

Dr. Bernard LaFayette, civil rights leader, aide to Dr. Martin Luther King

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Poor People’s Campaign & its sweetest backer

Ben & Jerry’s is marking the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign with a special display from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture about the civil rights struggle. The exhibit is on display throughout 2018 at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vt., which is Vermont’s largest single tourist attraction, with 400,000 visitors each year. This is the Smithsonian’s first exhibit at a corporate location. At the unveiling of the exhibit, Ben & Jerry’s founder Jerry Greenfield talks about why the company is the lone corporate sponsor of the modern Poor People’s Campaign against racism, poverty and militarism, and a Smithsonian curator discusses the purpose and challenge of having a civil rights exhibit at an ice cream factory. (June 27, 2018 broadcast)

Dr. Aaron Bryant, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream