Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network
Black History Month is observed every February to recognize and honor the great achievements of African Americans throughout history. Black History Month began in 1976 (replacing a weekly celebration) and has been strongly supported by many individuals and groups since then.
As a way to celebrate the phenomenal accomplishments of African Americans and to help you get to know your NSPN family, we’ve asked NSPN staff members:
What African American has inspired you the most and why?
- Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: Maya Angelou – Her spirit, compassion, fierce courage and love of the use of words inspire me.
- Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: Harriet Tubman wore many hats – daughter, sister, wife, mother, survivor, protector, facilitator, host, soldier, spy, caregiver, problem solver, investor, and many others. I would call her a “bad ass social worker”.
- Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education, and Public Policy: Barack Obama. He has faced unprecedented gridlock in Washington, DC, so much criticism, and a great amount of pressure as the first African-American president. He has done so with grace, humor, and intelligence. He is missed.
- April Carthorn, General Specialist: My grandmother, Ruthie Mae Jones
- Sherry Casey, Operations and Administration Manager: Muhammad Ali
- Lindsey Collier, Human Trafficking Specialist: Maya Angelou – She is an incredibly gifted and talented individual and she never let racial, gender, or other forms of discrimination and bias stop her from sharing her gift with the world.
- Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: Muhammad Ali – He broke barriers and held fast to his moral code, in the face of adversity.
- Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: My mother – because of everything.
- Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: Dr. Martin Luther King – He was a wildly brave man who acted on his beliefs and gave his life for those beliefs.
- Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: Septima Clark – She inspired those who we think of as inspirational civil rights leaders. She believed so strongly in literacy and in the rights, but also responsibilities, of informed citizenship. Even when she was afraid, and rightly so, she did things because it was the courageous and right thing to do. She was known for a way of listening and talking with people who made them feel whole and important. She had principles, but she changed and grew as she had new experiences; I admire that quality. Because shew as a woman in the movement, she was allowed no power and her role was always downplayed. She wasn’t shy about pointing that out and became a feminist later in life, pointing out that sexism was “one of the weaknesses of the civil rights movement.”
- Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: Maya Angelou – her words will forever inspire and influence generations of people.
- Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: I am incredibly inspired by Sarah Breedlove, a.k.a. Madam C.J. Walker. During the 1890s, she became a self-made millionaire. That’s right – a millionaire – in the 1890s! She created hair care products, built her brand by cultivating a team of 40,000 brand ambassadors, and marketed and sold her products door-to-door. To this day – 134 years later – you can still buy her successful products. She was rightfully deemed a “marketing magician” as she paved the way for marketing professionals throughout history. She shared her success by offering sizable donations to the YMCA and other organizations. She’s just incredible.
- Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: Jackie Robinson – He broke the baseball color line.
Who inspires you the most? Feel free to leave a comment below.