Delivered at February 28, 2023 Board Meeting.
I will move to my other opening remarks this morning, and that is the – the recognition of this final day, February. The final day of Black History Month. I want to take a moment to underscore the unique significance of Black History Month. It’s a time of reflection, a necessary reconciliation of our nation’s authentic past filled with both darkness and light. And it marks an occasion to celebrate the resilience of a people, their power to overcome, and to guide through their struggle across more than 400 years, our collective path toward becoming a more perfect union.
This year’s national theme for Black History Month is black resistance, which recognizes events in history ranging from rebellions and uprisings, to civil disobedience and emphatic declarations of black power. And in more recent times has yet again ignited the spirit of activism, social justice, and a comprehensive drive for equity. Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Brionna Taylor, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Ahmad Aubrey, Elija McClain, Tyree Nichols, and Keenan Anderson. Just a few of the names that have spurred outrage and galvanized a broader push for diversity and inclusion. Their stories have prompted resistance in a multitude of ways and inspired African Americans and their allies to challenge systemic racism in institutions large and small. Their fates serve as tragic reminders of what remains of our work to recognize and promote the fundamental human dignity of all people.
It also puts into context the almost universal imperative among people who look like me to advance a counter narrative attempting to amplify our collective humanity, capacity for joy, and quest for significance. The past few weeks and months have seen a drive to cancel or deny the very existence of the central African American story in contribution to the growth and greatness of this nation, as states take up laws to literally perpetuate myths and white wash history.
And while, often it is easy to become discouraged, to get angry, or cynical, I choose to take a different path as so many before me have. The path of hope, faith, of community, and gratitude for those everywhere who have joined in the struggle for recognition, for equity, for diversity, for basic human values. Through Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Mia Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, John Lewis, Barack Obama, Madam C.J. Walker, Duke Ellington. Black leaders, movers and shakers who have affected historic changes, and those whose shoulders we stand on today. We embrace their leadership their own brand of black resistance and the excellence they have inspired today in many, like Vice President Camilla Harris, Mayor Karen Bass and others whose names I won’t mention except right here at DWP, many, including Anselmo Collins, Winfred Yancy, Simon Zewdu, John Smith, LaTanya Bogin, Brionna Lindsey and Shantae Mitchell, and the more than 1,300 employees of black heritage who serve Los Angeles every day to stand as both an example and witness and reminder of the triumph that is also a part of our story.
I am grateful to this department for its ongoing recognition of all of its employees, and its particular role in amplifying black leadership and black excellence as part of Black History Month.
In closing my statement, I would like to play a small snippet of the stories that we have been running on radio and telling in newspapers across the City of L.A. that stand as testament to the continuing history that we make as we continue to move forward in this great country.
We have an extraordinary workforce, one that continues to make history every day. And you have just seen some of the most amazing, generous, and talented Black history makers in the City of L.A. right here at LADWP.
I am and would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that this time of year is probably my favorite, because February and March are monthly celebrations that mean the most to me. As Black History Month comes to a close, we celebrate Women’s History Month, beginning tomorrow, and International Women’s History Day Wednesday, March 8th.
On behalf of your all-female Board of Water and Power Commissioners and early Women’s History Month, I wanted to just make a note that while we will have more to say about it, before our next Board meeting on March 11, the department is hosting its first ever Career and Wellness Expo out at the Truesdale Training Center, and I just wanted to take a second to put that out there to invite all of the women of this department and you know the progressive men to show up and join us for what will truly be a remarkable day. Thank you for that.