February 18, 2020
Guest Blog by Doran Moreland
I’m a proud United Way board member, community advocate, and family guy. So, when United Way asked me to contribute my thoughts for its Black History Month Celebration, I agreed without hesitation, as long as I could comment from my professional and personal lens on a topic of importance to me, leaders of inspiration and their legacies.
For centuries, Black people have fought for the right to be free, and to live with dignity and agency. Throughout history, there are countless heroes who have risked everything to challenge people, rules, and systems of oppression. In this wake of personal sacrifice and care for the greater good, we all reap the benefit of greater personal liberties. With this in mind, I immediately think of our well-known civil rights warriors: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Thaddeus Stevens, Frederick Douglass, Marie Foster, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, among hundreds of others.But for this post, I’d like to offer a list of people who have inspired me as a professional, as a civic leader, and as a father. They all worked hard, fought hard, thought hard. Most of all, they put the needs of others before themselves. We should strive to preserve their legacies in literature, in the arts and in our broader culture. Here’s my legacy list for Black History Month:
(1) Shirley Chisolm— Chisolm became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, the first woman to run for the Democratic Party‘s presidential nomination, as well as the first woman to appear in a United States presidential debate. Chisolm’s entire career was devoted to social justice, educational access and women’s rights. I can think of no stronger example of a person who advanced our understanding of what is possible in politics. Shirley Chisolm simply made her own lane.
(2) Mari Evans—Evan’s poem “I Am a Black Woman”, speaks to the multidimensionality of Black identity with both tender and biting words. Evans was also an activist for prison reform and was an opponent to capital punishment, which I admire.
(3) Bill Mays – Mays was the first African American board chair and campaign chair for the United Way of Central Indiana. He established the Diversity Leadership Circle, which still inspires donors today. Personally speaking, I remember seeing Mays’ photo in the Indiana University Business School in Bloomington as an undergrad. Although I later switched to majoring in Political Science, Bill Mays’ image on the Business Wall of Fame helped me feel that I belonged at IU.
(4 Lloyd Tucker – My uncle, Lloyd Tucker, taught me the importance of community involvement and relationship building. He was an entrepreneur and an aspirant for public office. I’m carrying on his legacy and I think of Uncle Lloyd almost every day.
(5) Kobe Bryant – Fresh from shock that we lost one of basketball’s greatest, off the court, he gave millions to help inspire young athletes, open doors and opportunities for children who lacked funding for summer leagues and private training. He was known for granting wishes to young cancer patients. I’ll remember him for his uncompromising drive for excellence. And like me, Kobe was a proud father of daughters.
Every month is Black History Month in my view. The intellectual and physical contributions of Black people are embedded in the character of the United States. I see February as an opportunity to showcase the durable, often unheralded excellence of Black people everywhere, and I hope our stories of success, in spite of structural adversity, will inspire each Hoosier to recognize both past mistakes and the tremendous potential of the United States, Indiana, and our Central Indiana community. We are all inextricably linked. Together we thrive.
Doran Moreland is Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Belonging at Ivy Tech and a board member of United Way of Central Indiana.