February 16, 2024

Celebrating Black History Month: What Does It Mean to You?

Can you share a bit about your personal background and heritage? How has your cultural heritage influenced your identity and experiences?

I’m the eldest sibling in my family, a position that has instilled in me a sense of responsibility and leadership from a young age. Married with four daughters and three grandchildren, my life is a rich tapestry of love, laughter, and the daily lessons that come with a large, vibrant family. My grandmother, who with her sisters ran a nightclub in Taylor, showed me the power of entrepreneurship regardless of how hard it may be. My father’s dedication during storms for the electrical company made him a local hero, teaching me the importance of hard work and reliability. My mother, who led HR for a local company here for 27 years, demonstrated the importance of leadership and integrity in the professional world. Similarly, my grandfather’s testament to entrepreneurship and service to the local community. These stories of perseverance, entrepreneurship, and dedication in the face of adversity have profoundly shaped my identity and my commitment to fostering a future where my family can thrive, honoring the legacy of those who paved the way for us and striving to be a beacon of strength and inspiration for generations to come.

Who are some Black historical figures that have inspired you personally? How have these figures impacted your life and goals?

The true giants in my life have been my father. My dad’s unwavering commitment, especially during emergencies, taught me about responsibility and the importance of being someone others can rely on in time of need. His legacy in our town is a beacon of reliability and service. I remember our phone ringing everytime the power went out in the neighborhood, with people asking him when it would be back on before he even had a chance to get his boots on. He was always kind and always rolled with the punches. Never letting anything or anyone stop him from his goals.

Can you recall a specific moment or event in Black history that has had a profound impact on you? How do you think that moment has shaped the course of history?

The Civil Rights Movement, a pivotal era in our history, deeply resonates with me, especially when considering the role of Black entrepreneurs like Madam C.J. Walker. Her success in business and her contributions to social causes during a time of immense struggle for civil rights showcase the power of economic independence and philanthropy in advocating for change. Her legacy is a testament to the impact that determined individuals can have on advancing equality and justice, inspiring me to use my platform and resources to support my community and fight for equity.

In what ways do you believe Black culture has contributed positively to society? Can you highlight any specific areas where Black individuals have made significant cultural contributions?

The contributions of Black history to society are vast and profound, spanning the arts, sciences, politics, and beyond. Black inventors, scientists, and engineers have pioneered advancements that shape our daily lives, from traffic lights to blood transfusions. In the arts, the Harlem Renaissance was a cultural awakening that brought Black literature, music, and visual arts to the forefront of American culture, influencing generations. Moreover, the civil rights and social justice movements led by Black leaders have fundamentally shifted societal norms towards greater equality and understanding. These contributions exemplify the enduring impact of Black excellence and resilience on a global scale.

What challenges have you personally faced as a result of your racial or ethnic background? Can you share a story of triumph over adversity that you find particularly empowering?

Entering the HVAC trade, I quickly realized I was often the only person of color in the room, facing derogatory comments and poor-tasteless racial jokes. Yet, I drew strength from the legacies of phenomenal Black leaders who preceded me. Their ability to focus and build on the success of previous generations taught me the importance of education, mastery in my field, and personal development. I went all in and invested in myself! By embracing knowledge in accounting, finance, and leadership, I’ve achieved tremendous success. These experiences have worked to ensure that everyone I meet feels valued, capable, and those I work with feel inspired to reach their full potential.

How do you engage with and contribute to your local Black community? Are there specific organizations or causes that you actively support?

As a Board Member of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC), my work extends beyond personal achievements to empowering others within the community. My media and advisory business is dedicated to providing local for-profits and non-profits with the crucial knowledge they need to thrive in business and life. This role allows me to mentor, guide, and support the next generation

How can we better educate others about the history and contributions of Black individuals? What role do you believe education plays in promoting understanding and unity?

In celebrating Black contributions to science and technology, we honor figures like Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, whose mathematical genius propelled NASA’s space missions forward. Despite their groundbreaking work, they faced profound racial injustices, such as not being allowed to use the same bathrooms as their white counterparts. Their stories are a powerful reminder of the brilliance and resilience of Black scientists, who were far ahead of their time, yet constrained by the societal norms of their era. Education is crucial in bringing these stories to the forefront, promoting understanding and unity by highlighting the achievements and challenges of Black individuals throughout history. It not only honors their contributions but also inspires future generations to build on this legacy of excellence and perseverance.

What changes or improvements would you like to see for the Black community in the future? How can individuals, communities, and societies work towards a more inclusive and equitable future?

My hope is for people to feel comfortable to seek support from local chambers and non profit organizations. It’s about creating a community where businesses and non profit organizations can collaborate, share best practices, and support each other’s growth. Round Rock’s diversity is a testament to our shared future, and by working together, we can foster an environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Encouraging participation in local governance, supporting minority-owned businesses, and fostering community dialogues on inclusivity and equity are steps towards building a more inclusive and equitable society.

What advice would you give to young Black individuals aspiring to achieve their goals? How can the next generation contribute to the ongoing progress and empowerment of the Black community?

Be mindful of the hardships endured by those who came before you. Their struggles and resilience paved the way for the rights and freedoms you enjoy today. Honor their legacy by putting your best foot forward every day, volunteering, and leading with a sense of purpose. Your actions can create a ripple effect, encouraging others to pay it forward and build upon the foundation laid by previous generations. Embrace education, seek mentorship, and never underestimate the power of community. By doing so, you contribute to the ongoing progress and empowerment of the Black community, ensuring a brighter future for all.

How important is it to recognize and celebrate the diversity within the Black community? In what ways can we ensure that the various voices and experiences within the Black community are acknowledged and valued?

Looking at the leaders in our community and their representation of diverse backgrounds fills me with pride. Having grown up in Round Rock, raised my children here, and now witnessing my grandchildren grow up in such a supportive environment, I am optimistic about what we can achieve together. Our children and grandchildren represent the future, and it’s up to us to guide and support them in building a more inclusive, understanding world. Celebrating diversity within the Black community is essential to recognizing the full spectrum of our experiences, achievements, and challenges. We ensure that various voices and experiences are acknowledged by creating platforms for dialogue, supporting Black arts and culture. . By doing so, we strengthen the bonds that unite us. Faith, family and love.

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