February is Black History Month (BHM)—an annual, month-long observance when the U.S. celebrates and reflects on the contributions Black Americans have made throughout the country’s history.
BHM is an excellent opportunity to build our community, create awareness and engage in conversations that highlight strong leadership and inspire and instill positive aspects of black life. This year’s BHM theme is “African Americans and the Vote,” honoring the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment that granted African American men the right to vote.
At Tech Data, we are holding several Black History Month events, which demonstrate our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), a cornerstone of our company culture.
According to a report, Being Black In Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration, less than half of all professionals – regardless of their race or ethnicity – think their companies have effective D&I efforts.1 BHM is a powerful opportunity to educate our colleagues and highlight some of our influential and inspirational black colleagues who have contributed towards the success of the company.
Black History Month Inspiration from Tech Data Colleagues
To celebrate black colleagues of influence in the technology field, we asked several Tech Data colleagues what BHM means to them. Here are some of their responses.
In the following video, Elondrus Lee, from the Security Solutions at Tech Data, describes what Black History Month means and how his role has contributed to the success of Tech Data.
Cal Jackson, Director, Diversity and Inclusion
“Every year, Black History Month provides the African American community an opportunity to highlight the awesome contributions this community has made to our country. It also reminds us all of the lack of equity given to the accomplishments from certain communities in our country. Every year during BHM we reinitiate the need to revise our history lessons to be more diverse and inclusive. Black History Month provides new information to some; however, it has been a part of my life and my learnings from my family and our ancestors throughout my life.”
Ashley Peters, Director, Product Marketing
“Black history month is a time to reflect, recognize and celebrate those who have made things possible for future generations. I am proud to be the first African American female executive at Tech Data.”
Monique Griggley, Senior Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team
“I celebrate black history daily as a black woman. Black History Month affords me the opportunity to celebrate with others of all affinities the history, the vision, the wins, the lessons learned and the movements and journey we are still on.”
Derick Fluker, Director, Regional Logistics – Americas
“Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect, honor and acknowledge the bravery, perseverance and contributions of many remarkable change agents who greatly shaped the world in which we all live today.”
Johnny Young, Cloud Sales Manager
“I grew up in Louisiana in the 1960s. In my lifetime I’ve seen water fountains and bathrooms labeled colored and white. The assassinations of JFK, RFK, Malcolm X and MLK happened during my childhood. And I watched the 1968 Olympics and the Carlos/Smith protest on the medal stand. But there are also so many positive contributions made by trailblazers, inventors, business leaders, scientists, educators and many others who changed our nation and the world. Those all need to be celebrated and remembered. Black History Month offers the opportunity to bring attention to the good, bad and ugly, most of which is not mentioned in traditional history books. That is what inspired me to attend Southern University, an Historically Black College and University in Baton Rouge, La where I grew up. It is also what motivates me to look for ways to make a difference, to pay it forward, and to make sure that our history is passed on and remembered by future generations.”
Tarrance Mckanney, Director, Site Logistics Fontana, CA and Rialto, CA
“Black History Month means a sense of pride and respect. I’m in awe of all of the men and women who accomplished such great things and stood for so much.”
Nicky-Ann Cadogan, Sr. Demand Creation Program Developer
“Black History Month allows everyone to look at the history of the past, present and future as well as what we all need to do to be better.”
Brandon Johnson, Director, Logistics – A5 Fort Worth
“Black History Month is a reminder of the struggle and hard work of those before me, that now gives me the freedom and opportunities that my grandparents did not have.”
Gavin Whitfield, Operations Manager, Logistics
“Black History is American history. This month is an opportunity to educate, discuss and reaffirm our connections to each other. This is an opportunity for our children to learn about themselves; understanding that they are not less than anyone else. The month gives us all the confidence and inspiration to be our best selves.”
Akil Walton, Vice President Talent Management
“Black History Month exemplifies the joy, appreciation and pride to communicate with others who might not know or understand the full beauty of black people today via our rich history and current contributions to the world. It’s a time to celebrate our pride in being black and all the wonderful accomplishments associated with this fact. It’s also a time to show how we are shaping the world’s future in the areas of technology, entertainment, economics, agriculture, education, sports, music, healthcare and more. In summary, for me, Black History Month is world history, which means everyone should cherish, appreciate and celebrate Black History because it is also, in part, everyone’s history.”
A Series of Events to Celebrate Black History Month at Tech Data
To inspire conversation and motivate colleagues to think and act, Tech Data is hosting a series of educative events to celebrate Black History Month.
1. Inaugural Flag-Raising Ceremony of the Pan-African Flag
As part of Tech Data’s D&I efforts, Beacon, a Business Resource Group (BRG) dedicated to supporting the recruitment, retention, enablement and advancement of black people at Tech Data, kicked off BHM with a flag-raising ceremony of the Pan-African Flag, Feb. 3, 2020. The flag will fly all month long.
The Pan-African (RBG) flag is the most recognizable symbol of Pan-Africanism and several African nations have adopted the colors as a symbol of their sovereignty. RBG stands for Red, Black and Green. Red represents the blood of martyrs who have given their lives for the causes of liberty, unification and redemption. Black represents the people and the soils of Africa. Green represents fertility, productivity and prosperity. Tech Data raised the flag for the first time in the company’s 45-year history, marking the 100th anniversary of the flag’s conception.
“The first time I saw the Pan-African Flag I realized that it looked so much like the Kenyan flag – where I am originally from; and that the alternative name for the RBG flag is Bendera Ya Taifa which is Swahili for ‘flag of the Nation.' I speak Swahili, so it resonated with me. As a Tech Data colleague, the flag-raising ceremony makes me feel included in the culture.” Emah Madegwa, Americas Digital Communications Manager.
2. Beacon Tech Table Talk
Beacon will host a Tech Table Talk – a webinar presented by the Women of Tech Data for internal Tech Data colleagues. The event will provide a spotlight to several women of color that are making contributions in the tech industry – inside and outside Tech Data. The panelists will share how they are personally encouraged by the work these particular women have accomplished.
3. Workplace Culture: I Am More Than My Skin
As part of an ongoing series to educate colleagues about self-identity and workplace myths linked to appearance, Beacon, along with Fuerza, Tech Data’s Hispanic/Latinx BRG, will host a live panel discussion entitled “I Am More Than My Skin.” The panel will explore the opportunities and challenges associated with skin color in corporate America. The panelists will converse about how one’s skin color does not define an individual and how Tech Data has taken steps to be not only a more diverse, but also a more inclusive place of employment.
To learn more about Tech Data’s diversity and inclusion programs, click here.
About the Author
Emah Madegwa is a Digital Communications Manager for Tech Data in Clearwater, Florida. She leads the social and web-based marketing communications strategies in support of amplifying the Tech Data brand, increasing user engagement through social and digital tools, and deriving insights to help optimize communication strategies across the Americas region. Prior to joining Tech Data, Emah worked as a communications specialist for an IT company, an independent chain pharmacy and the United Nations (UN) respectively. Emah’s background and profile can found on LinkedIn.