What made you choose AT&T?

My major in college intrigued me to pursue a career in telecom. When I was looking for a position in the industry, my first stop was actually with an AT&T competitor. I started in their customer service. I found that in many cases employees were lacking experience, making it tough to provide great service. I eventually made the change to AT&T. It’s been a wonderful experience learning and growing within the company for the last 15 years.

Who were some of your childhood heroes? What posters did you have hanging on your walls as a teen?

My biggest hero was my father. He owned a McDonald’s franchise in Chicago and was one of the few African Americans to do so. He really defined my work ethic and approach to life. I’m an avid music fan. I especially like old school hip-hop. You could find artists like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, KRS-One and Rakim on my walls as a teen.

What are some of the defining cultural moments you experienced during your lifetime?

As a college freshman, the Rodney King Trial was big in the media. I remember that as the first time I took note of civil demonstrations. That was the genesis of modern activism for my generation. Since then, I’ve been involved in grassroots community building. I help with organizing coat drives and tutoring the youth in my community.

What are some of your hopes for future generations?

My hope is that future generations will progress in the battle for equality—regardless of race, creed or color. One of the biggest obstacles are the prejudices and microagressions subgroups like people of color and the LGBT community face. And dialogue is the answer. By communicating our struggles, we can help those in position of privilege see the inequalities. Our hope is to work together to promote social justice.

What does Black History mean to you?

Black History is truly world History. Black History is an acknowledgment the story of the U.S. does not begin and end with one culture and one viewpoint. African Americans have a story. Latin Americans have a story. Native Americans, Asian Americans and so forth all have great histories. It’s our duty to pass along the legacies of all people to our children.

Michael Perry, telecom specialist