To me, Black History Month means never giving up. It is a time of appreciation for those who sacrificed to give me the opportunities I have today.
I celebrate my mother, who raised three children on her own and always made sure that we had what we needed. She taught me to be proud of who I am and not to look at what I didn't have. She’d tell me to be persistent – no matter what obstacles lay in my path.
I also reflect on the experiences of those that paved the way for me to enjoy the freedoms I can today. I think about courageous individuals like Representative John Lewis who, in 1965, led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches to speak out against segregation and promote African American voting rights. I remember the first African American students to break the color barrier in desegregated schools in the South.These iconic individuals have taught me that criticism and struggle should never stand in the way of my goals.
I’ve always loved being part of the restaurant industry, and I joined LongHorn Steakhouse 19 years ago as a restaurant manager. At the time, I had a high school diploma and a dream to become a leader in the organization. I worked hard for my restaurant team, and over time, I worked my way up, becoming a Director of Operations. I didn’t let anything stop me from achieving that goal, and I went on to earn my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management using the Darden tuition reimbursement program.
As I look to the future, I think about my contribution and how I can continue what others started years ago. I think of all of my allies throughout Darden that helped me over the years and believed in my potential – even when I had yet to see it myself.
Black History Month is a time of inspiration as I think of all the things that African Americans have accomplished. It is also a reminder of everything that we are still fighting to achieve. I am encouraged by the thought that what makes us different is what makes us more united.
Together, anything is possible. We just have to remember – never to give up.