Imagine being treated less than human, with no civil rights or no choice in the type of work you perform, all while earning less than minimum wage and oftentimes nothing at all. Being restricted from knowing how to read, write, learn, or even dream of a life beyond mental and physical enslavement.
Black history can be upsetting but it can also be encouraging. Consider the accomplishments of so many under so much racism and strife. Black History Month symbolizes progression in the black community.
African Americans are in a position to make decisions of their choice when it comes to their career pursuits. We must take advantage of the resources that are available to us, and be proactive when it comes to obtaining employment. So whether you’re a nine-to-fiver, business owner, freelancer, etc., the key is to stay motivated and practice consistency so that you can succeed.
Here are five black history reminders to keep you motivated as you pursue your own career goals.
- Carter G. Woodson encouraged the study of black history when he founded Black History Week in 1926. His work left such a long-lasting impression that in 1976, Black History became a federally recognized celebratory month. As a result of Dr. Woodson pursuing his passion and advocating for a cause beyond himself, others recognized it and supported it, which ultimately accomplished his goal.
- Frederick McKinley Jones received over 60 patents during the course of his career pertaining to refrigeration technologies as well as others related to X-ray machines, engines, and sound equipment. He is most notable for his design of a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying perishable food. An orphan with little education, he was able to defy the odds. He found work doing odd jobs as a janitor in an automobile shop where he developed an interest for auto mechanics. He worked daily and studied his craft in his spare time. Jones is a great example of not letting your circumstances limit your ambition.
- Black Wall Street was an affluent black community in the early 1900s located in the Greenwood district neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At a time when segregation was at an all-time high, the community opened their own highly successful schools, churches, theaters, and nightclubs. Today, African Americans have the option to start their own businesses, pursue career opportunities of their choice, and patronize businesses of their choice. Let this piece of history serve as motivation for you to design and create what you wish existed and be certain to utilize your network to build and create it.
- Anne Lowe was the first credited African American fashion designer. Lowe was born in 1898 in Clayton, Alabama, during the Jim Crow era. However, due to her grandmother and mother being great dressmakers, her family moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and started their own business. Lowe was a natural at her craft and later attended design school in New York City, although she was segregated from her white classmates. After finishing design school, she reopened her business. Lowe is famously known for creating Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress. Let this be motivation for you to use your natural talents and gifts to create a growing career.
- President Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States and the first African American to serve in this role. He accomplished something that many believed would never be done. Let this be motivation to you that regardless of what others may think of your dreams, don’t allow it to affect the vision that you have for yourself. Keep working to make your vision a reality.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on February 7, 2018