While I was thinking about what to share for our all hands meeting, I saw several pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. in color and realized that the Civil Rights movement really wasn’t that long ago (1954 – 1968). That’s when it clicked. I wanted to focus on the recency of the movement.
Growing up, I had only ever seen pictures of the Civil Rights Movement in black and white, which led me to believe that those events happened over 100 years ago. When in reality, it was about half that time. While Black History Month is on our calendar every year, I think we all forget just how recent that history really is.
To put it in perspective, this all happened around the movement’s timeframe:
- The first issue of “Sports Illustrated” came out in 1954
- J.R.R. Tolkien debuted “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” in 1954
- The Beatles released “Abbey Road” in 1969
- “Sesame Street” debuted in 1969
Growing up, my perception of the Civil Rights movement was a little different than most. My sister and I were homeschooled by strong and proud African American parents. I knew more Black heroes like Ruby Bridges and Bessie Coleman than American presidents. While the Civil Rights movement felt like ancient history to me as a kid, I knew that the way Blacks were treated back then still held true today. I was learning about Rosa Parks while having “the talk” with my parents about how to act when a cop pulled me over, what to say, where to put my hands, and how to be polite.
Shattering glass ceilings
Today, it’s so exciting that we have another milestone to celebrate in Black History: Kamala Harris as the first female U.S. Vice President.
It’s such a big deal, especially when you look at the history she’s up against: a long line of male vice presidents. I saw the below picture on Twitter, and it really drove home the point. In the red box, Kamala would have been enslaved. In the yellow box, she had to attend a segregated school. And the green box, she couldn’t even have her own bank account.
Don’t understand why it’s a big deal that Kamala Harris is VP?
Until Red box? She would have been enslaved.
Until Blue box? She couldn’t vote.
Until Yellow box? She had to attend a segregated school.
Until Green one? She couldn’t have her own bank account. pic.twitter.com/wHrlchhTS8
— ???? Foxxita ???? #Vote????????????2020???????????? (@Foxxita) January 23, 2021
She’s shattering glass ceilings, and it’s so inspiring and empowering to younger Black women. Younger Black women should be proud of who they are. I think growing up, I let other kids categorize me and put me in a box they felt like I belonged in. When I got to college, I really got to test who I was and who I wanted to be. The biggest power move was caring less about what other people thought and focusing on what I thought about myself.
Black History Month in the workplace
Sometimes Black History Month almost becomes taboo, especially in the workplace, because everyone is so worried about being politically correct or trying to be the “perfect” ally. To me, Black history is American history, and we take one month to really focus on those struggles and triumphs of our people.
I have found that the best Black History Months have been filled with conversation and curiosity. I’m glad that Sundae encouraged just that over the course of the month and continues to do so. Fostering a culture where diversity is celebrated is reflected in our #OneTeam company value. It recognizes that diverse teams create the best results and the most fun. Celebrating diversity is also important to us given we serve a diverse group of customers and homeowners.
Cicely Tyson said it best in her interview with Oprah, that Black people have always had to understand other cultures to survive, while other cultures have never done the same to us because they didn’t need to conform to survive. I think true change comes from people just wanting to truly understand each other and their unique walk of life.
It’s important to open up conversations like this in the workplace because change is found in the uncomfortable. By opening them up, it allows open and honest discussion to create a better level of understanding.
Adriea Herndon is a Customer Advisor for Sundae.
Adriea is Sundae’s Team Lead in the Mountain Region for the Customer Advisor team. She has combined her passion for helping others and the “gift of gab” to improve the customer experience. Her colorful work experience and natural curiosity allow her to keep searching for more ways to grow.