Black History Month – Profiles
VP-Employment Law/ Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer | AEO Inc.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
The contributions of Black people are generally minimized and marginalized. Black History Month ideally provides all of us the opportunity to publicly celebrate the enduring and positive impact of Black people on every aspect of the human experience.
What do you find inspirational about Black History Month?
Achievement against the odds is always inspirational. That is the story of Black people. I am so proud of this legacy and gives me hope for the future of Black people.
Who is your Black hero or role model and why?
Jackie Robinson. With some historical figures we tend to fall back on clichés and understate their achievements and sacrifices. The crushing weight of expectations, hope, hate, and doubt that Mr. Robinson was forced to carry on his shoulders makes me shudder. And Mr. Robinson against this backdrop did not just survive, he thrived. Mr. Robinson is an all-time great. A true example of #Black Excellence. When I was younger I had a poster that captured the moment in which Mr. Robinson stole home in the eighth inning of game 1 of the 1955 World Series against the Yankees. Until his death, Yogi Berra maintained he had tagged Mr. Robinson out. I admit it was a close call. But it was the audacity to even try! Fortune truly does favor the brave.
What is your favorite Black character from a movie, TV show, or book and why?
I absolutely love the movie Hidden Figures and the stories of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn. I felt the movie highlights how we often confuse our limited knowledge of events with history. History exists outside of our recognition of it. I am thankful when movies such as this expand the universe of people that have knowledge of the incredible contributions of Black people, and specifically in this case, Black women.
What advice would you give to a young African American lawyer just starting out in their career?
Be an expert. Be reliable. Build trust. Simple but difficult. However, if you achieve these three things, you will be successful. So get to work.
What advice would you give legal employers about what they can do to make workplaces welcoming and supportive for Black lawyers?
Invest in the individual. Firms invest in the people they value. People perform best when they feel valued.