Today’s celebration of Black History Month stems from the efforts of a Harvard-trained historian named Dr. Carter Woodson who in 1915 established an association to promote the scientific study of black life and history. That was a brave and trailblazing move, at a time when the social and academic climate of north America dehumanized African Americans as non-citizens. Woodson’s personal model was, it’s never too late to learn and that was the foundation to the creation of Black History Month. By 1926 Woodson established a full week dedicated to the contributions of black Americans 20 and by 1976, every American president dedicated February as Black History Month.
Black History is American history. For over 400 years from the founding of this nation to the establishment of this great city, people of African descent built this country’s early infrastructure and continue to do so today. African Americans created the first clock, the first pacemaker, and built the walls of the U.S. capital building. It is so inspiring to think of the countless contributions Black Americans have made to our society, despite the injustices they endured for centuries. African Americans have and will continue to be an essential part of history and the culture of our nation, our city, and our department. Although February is designated as Black History Month, we must celebrate and recognize the contributions of Black Americans every day of the year.
This recognition, Black History Month comes at an interesting if not critical time in our history. I am struck by the fact that as we sit this morning books are being taken out of libraries and indeed laws introduced in states across this nation that would call into question the very legality of the continued celebration of Black History Month. It is with immense pride they join my fellow commissioners in celebrating our African American workforce their achievements and their dedication to providing utility services to the over 4 million people in the city of Los Angeles.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that structural inequities in our workplace exist. LADWP is committed to diversifying our workforce to ensure African Americans have greater access to roles throughout our entire organization, particularly at the leadership level.
We acknowledge how past policies and practices left out many of our customers in disadvantaged communities, including the African American community. With programs like LA100 equity strategies taking to right the wrongs to ensure environmental justice.
I want to recognize the importance of our department’s resource groups like LADWP NSBE which are dedicated to making the department more inclusive. The LADWP-NSBE is hosting a month of blast history virtual events a huge accomplishment that promotes our work to promote understanding and acceptance I encourage all employees to participate in these events in rich understanding and appreciation of each other’s commonalities and differences. To NSBE the board and I support you and we are excited to learn about your many activities during the 2 past years during your presentation.
Like Dr. Woodson’s motto, it is never too late to learn. Together, we at LADWP are learning. We are committed to becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive as an employer, and utility provider.