Appreciating the CHANGE Black Leaders have made
As a black woman joining a new organisation that doesn’t have many other black employees it can be a little nerve-racking. Although I am confident, and I have joined SyncD as a Lead, I did have a few questions surrounding my colleagues understanding me or seeking to understand me?’
Well, based on the Black History month commitments and engagement from SyncD and Futureheads, I think it’s safe to say that there is a huge appetite to learn, and they are definitely making efforts toward action-based changes.
Apart from sponsoring the black history month event with my personal network Black Create Connect and Black Recruiters network, the wider business was happy for me to host a black history ‘breakfast and learn’.
For Black History Month, I really wanted us to focus on which black leaders who have historically made a change, raise awareness of black working experiences, and how to take action to empower black professionals. As a black leader myself, this was a massively important subject, so I ran a breakfast and learn where we learned about the importance of black history, and the impact each black icon had on society today.
Below are some of the icons we discussed, and to ensure it was an inclusive activity I asked some of my colleagues to share their favorite black icon and share why – it was great to see the array of people highlighted, there was a lot of learning and a lot I also took away from it.
Firstly I selected Harriet Tubman, for those that don’t know Harriet was born into slavery between 1820 and 1822 ( her exact birth date is unknown) in Maryland, USA. Harriet successfully escaped from slavery in 1849 and settled in Philadelphia as a free woman. I admire Harriet because she didn’t focus on just saving herself, but she travelled back to her plantation 19 times to save over 300 slaves, risking her life and freedom on numerous occasions for others. I adopt a very similar mindset as Harriet, where I believe I should not only seek to help myself but also any other underrepresented person who may need uplifting/support. Today Harriet’s legacy lives on and she was buried with full military honours.
Some of the other icons we discussed include:
- Michael Jordan – NBA Basketball player with a combination of 10 scoring titles, 5 league MVPs, 6Finals MVPs, 10 All-NBA First team honors and nine All-Defensive First team honor will NEVER be matched. Jordan’s six Finals MVP’s is an all-time record.
- Walter Tull – He was the 3rd person of mixed heritage to play in the English football first division
- Lewis Hamilton – Only black F1 driver ever – and also the most successful F1 driver ever
- Ian Wright – Signed for Arsenal in 1991 for £2.5m, which at the time was a club record fee, huge supporter of women in football
- Muhammed Ali – Aside from Michael Jordan, no athlete has more Sports Illustrated covers
- Tiger Woods – Number 1 for 13 years in his sport
- Marshall Major Tailor – Only 1% Black representation within his sport, established seven world records; the quarter-mile, the one-third-mile (0.5 km), the half-mile, the two-thirds-mile (1.1 km), the three-quarters-mile (1.2 km), the one-mile, and the two-mile (3.2 km) distances.
- Jordan Peele – Best known for Get Out but is building an amazing body of work in film and TV
- Tina Turner – She has been inducted twice into the rock n roll hall of fame – first with Ike in 1991 and then as a solo artist in 2021
- Otis Reading – Nicknamed King of Soul, Singer and songwriter, who set up a summer camp for disadvantaged children.
- Rupal Charles – RuPaul, is an American drag queen, television judge, musician, and model, founder of RuPauls Drag race
- Ray Charles – Although he was blind, he is regarded as one of the most iconic and influential singers in history.
- Jimi Hendrix – Managed to become successful from 3 records only and achievement a Grammy lifetime achievement award
- Ice T – The only musical artist who has won a Grammy for a best Rap Performance and best metal/heard rock performance.
- Ken Nwadike Jr – Known as the ‘Free Hugs’ guy. His project was actually in response to the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2014
- Oladuah Equiano – Nigerian slave who bought his way out of slavery in 1766 and wrote a book about his experiences.
- Mary Seacole – Published First Autobiography by a black woman
- Michelle Obama – 1st Black First lady of USA
- Barack Obama – 1st Black President of USA
It was fantastic to celebrate these icons, peers and amazing influences with my colleagues
For anyone who would like to explore podcast discussions, entertainment and movies celebrating the same, please enjoy the list below.
Recommended Listens & Watches
- Black Create Connect – Hosted by myself featuring a new black professional every week
- ANTHEMS Black
- Black Gals Livin
- Pod Save The People
- The Echo Chamber
- Crazy and the king
- Black Women Working
- Code Switch
- When they see us
- The Banker
- Just Mercy
- Queen and Slim
- Seven Seconds
- Dear white people