Black History Month has been celebrated every February since 1976. Originally conceived as “Negro History Week” by Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month is a time set aside to specifically recognize the achievements and voices of the Black community. Lolanda Brown, LHC Group’s chief diversity officer, sat down with Brian Richard, a team member from our Communications Department, to talk about what Black History Month means to her.
BR: Who were your role models growing up?
LB: I know I’ve said this before, but… my parents. They were pioneers. My mom was the first Black teacher at the predominantly white elementary school in our town. My dad was the first Black member of the local school board.
They were stern and they set a lot of boundaries for us as kids. We went to school, church, and 4-H club, and that was about it. They did not accept mediocrity and always challenged us to do more. More importantly, though, they were loving. They always had a heart to give. I remember once there was a family we knew who lost their house in a fire. My parents stepped in right away and gave them our living room furniture.
They also made sure we had respect for others and never allowed us to see the negative in people. We saw them struggle as young, successful Black people. When my dad won the school board election, someone tried to steal 100 votes from him. We had to wait for the confirmation before we could celebrate. Even when they broke the news, the press tried to minimize his victory. Both my parents really modeled for us how to persevere no matter the circumstances.
BR: Tell us about a figure from Black culture who you look up to.
LB: I would have to say the poet Maya Angelou. Maya had a life of struggle, and yet she was always looking for the positive. Her interactions were so solid, transparent, and honest. Even when she was fired up, she always stayed so calm.
I’ve felt that one of my callings in life is to help individuals see that, no matter the struggle they are facing, there is a way to rise above it.
BR: What does Black History Month mean to you?
LB: Black History Month is such an important time to celebrate, recognize, and encourage those in the Black community. I love sharing stories about my family because I know that the desire to succeed can be fueled by seeing others who have done the same. They can be stories from our local community, the country, or the world. We can improve our interactions with each other if we see that everyone has value, regardless of their race, origin, or group they belong to. Every day we face so much negativity; we need to take every opportunity we get to lift people up.
BR: What do you see as your legacy at LHC Group?
LB: I want people to know that I am here to support and encourage them along their journey here at LHC Group. Too often, when people see a barrier, they make it bigger in their heads. I want people to see the challenges in their life not as barriers, but as opportunities for growth. Don’t feel like you have to walk away when people don’t agree with you or your perspective. When we can understand and accept differences of opinion or thought process, we can reach success much sooner.
Stories are an important part of sharing who we are here at LHC Group. Do you have an achievement, experience, or story that you would like to share? Share it with us here.