As we celebrate Black History this month, we are also confronted with the painful sacrifices that so many made. For me, the word “awe” comes to mind. I am certainly in awe of the fearless efforts that were made to:
- escape bondage,
- secure the right to vote,
- gain the right to attend any school, and
- exercise the right to sit anywhere on public transportation or eat at any establishment.
Despite past challenges, Black Americans have contributed significantly to all sectors of society, including science, medicine, inventions, journalism, technology and much more. In particular, I revere the influence Black Americans have had on both culture and governance. I think of the culture of beautifully set dinner tables with food we can barely pronounce to the tireless marches to make a difference for all people in the way laws are made.
I’m humbled as I truly reflect on how diversity hiring provides so many talents to the workplace, and I feel honored that so many Black Americans contribute to GSA’s success. Today, we’re proud that we find the history of Black Americans in many forms.
The National African American Museum of History and Culture has virtual resources to help you preserve, digitize and share African American family history. It also features virtual exhibits to explore Black history right from home.
What stood out the most for me is the inspiring artwork. I also recommend the literary scholarship of the writings tracing centuries of black history. You definitely must see the museum: virtually now, in person when you can.
This month, we acknowledge the great sacrifices, tenacity, resilience and fortitude that our ancestors exhibited in some of the most challenging times in history. I encourage you to reflect on how you will celebrate and honor Black History this year. One way to celebrate is to attend our February event.
Event: The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity
This year, on February 17, 2021, GSA’s Benjamin Banneker Chapter, Blacks In Government (BIG), hosted the agency’s Black History Program event. The event was virtual and all GSA employees were encouraged to attend.
Blacks In Government (BIG)
Blacks In Government® (BIG) was established in 1975 and incorporated in 1976 by a small group of African Americans at the Public Health Services Division which was a part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) at the Parklawn Building in Rockville, Maryland. The organization was viewed as essential to the Black civil service employees, based on a wide assortment of racially motivated problems facing HEW Black employees at that time.
Blacks In Government (BIG) went on to be recognized as a non-profit organization under the District of Columbia jurisdiction in 1976 and has chapters all around the nation, of which to date are over 6,000 members. BIG has been a national response to the needs of African Americans in public service to organize around issues of mutual concern and use their collective strength to mitigate workplace and community issues. BIG's goals are to promote EQUITY in all aspects of American life, EXCELLENCE in public service, and OPPORTUNITY for all Americans.
The GSA Benjamin Banneker Chapter (BBC) of BIG is just one of the 54 chapters located in the Washington, D.C. area. BBC has more than 80 members within the GSA Headquarters building and its contribution to the agency and its members is invaluable.