When I think about what Black History Month (BHM) means, I immediately reflect on my childhood and fond memories of spending time with my Dad on MLK Day — the unofficial kick-off to BHM. He was adamant that I learn about our history, especially growing up in Alabama where many key events in the civil rights movement took place. He made sure we visited sites like the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and encouraged my participation in programs at church that celebrated Black achievement.
These moments helped me connect to my community and shaped my upbringing. I saw and learned about the struggles of Black people in this country and the triumphs — what we achieved and overcame.
I keep these learnings with me every day. Having strong roots in Alabama, I embedded myself in community volunteerism early on, helping recruit people of color onto nonprofit boards serving minority communities. When my husband and I relocated to Dallas, I was fortunate enough to join a company that allowed me to continue those same efforts. Joining the AT&T Corporate Social Responsibility team nearly 8 years ago has allowed me to create connections with the communities we serve and lead programs that aim to make a real difference.
At AT&T, we’ve been working to help bridge the digital divide for millions of people across the country that lack access to high-quality connectivity — a gap that disproportionately impacts communities of color for a variety of reasons. A recent study noted that roughly half of Black workers have the advanced or proficient digital skills needed to thrive in our increasingly tech-driven economy, compared with 77% of white workers. A key aspect of solving this issue is ensuring people have the digital skills and resources needed to fully thrive in today’s world.
Our organization is working to help people better understand how to get online and use technology and is collaborating with organizations to train and deploy “Digital Navigators” in communities across the country. I’m particularly passionate about this program because it focuses on training trusted members of the community to help others within their community access the internet, use technology and devices and boost their digital skills to access important resources. It’s people helping people see the true value and benefits of connectivity.
I hope in reading my story you can see the theme and importance of connection — being connected to your past, your community and even resources, and how this can drive and contribute to helping you and others to achieve greater possibilities. This is what Black History Month means to me.
What might this look like for you? I encourage you to ask yourself: how much do I know about Black history? How many Black films or books have I seen or read? Do I know about any future Black innovators? Some of my current favorites are Golden Globe winner Quinta Brunson and AT&T’s 2023 Black Future Makers who inspire and impact their communities.
As a mom to a 3-year-old boy, Black History Month looks like going to the annual MLK Day parade and reading books by Black authors. My husband and I spend time with our son the way my dad did with me. I encourage those around me to recognize our past and look forward to the world of possibilities ahead.