We asked Cedric Clark, Keith Wyche and Earvin Young what Black History Month means to them.
Learning More Since George Floyd
Senior Vice President for Operations of the Eastern Business Unit Cedric Clark says that since the murder of George Floyd, Black History Month has taken on a new meaning for him.
“Black History Month to me—and it has been for the last two Black History Months—is trying to find the less mainstream individuals or events that can educate and maybe give someone a little more than they would get in a history book. I think those are the things that will spur the curiosity.”
Every Tuesday, Cedric runs a Real Talk call with Rob Burns, the regional vice president for Sam’s Club.
“It started after the George Floyd incident,” he explains. “We just got on a call with our teams and we began to take them through educating them about what the true history of race challenges were.”
The calls have covered the Red Summer—the months during 1919 when there were dozens of attacks on people of color by white supremacists—as well as the Tulsa bombing and other topics.
“There's things I've learned that I had no idea about—even as a Black man,” Cedric says. “It just inspires me to continue to learn, and to not assume what others know.”
Celebrating Black American Contributions
Keith Wyche, Walmart’s vice president of community engagement and support, represents the company at Black History Month events in Chicago and elsewhere.
“Black History Month for me is really the recognition, appreciation and acknowledgement of all the inventions, creativity and advances that Black and African American people have made in this country over the last 400 years. And it's recognition and acknowledgement of that. That's very important.”
Like Cedric, Keith experienced a profound reaction to Floyd’s death. “I remember growing up during the Civil Rights movement. I remember being a boy when Martin Luther King was assassinated. So, George Floyd’s murder and the riots—they did something visceral to me.”
Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Earvin Young, the vice president of people strategy and portfolio management at Sam’s Club, says the election of Chicago’s first Black mayor in 1983, when Earvin was a junior in high school, was an inspiring moment for him.
“That was probably the first time that I could really recognize and see the impact of someone being the first—and I saw the impact not only on Chicago, but in my own personal community, in my family,” he says. “I saw the pride in my mom and my grandmother. I saw the pride when I walked around my high school.”
He has also been inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of service.
“When I really take a step back, and I really understand his message and where he was going, and especially getting toward the end of his life, it was always about service,” Earvin explains.
“He talks about, ‘Rarely do we find men who are willing to engage in hard, solid thinking,’ right? Everyone wants the easy answer, but it’s important for us to take a step back and think. And to recognize that service—how we serve, why we serve, who we serve—is so important.”
“Everyone knows about King’s famous speeches,” Earvin continues, “but I've got a number of recordings of his lesser-known speeches, and he's always talking about serve, serve, serve. He talks about love and talks about forgiveness. And those three things are so important for us, I think for us as human beings and for us as Americans.”