February is Black History Month — our nation’s annual celebration of and observance of the heritage, achievements and contributions of Black Americans.
We can trace the origins of Black History Month back to 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson established 'Negro History Week' during the second week of February — close to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom worked towards the freedom of enslaved people. In 1976, President Gerald Ford called all Americans to celebrate Black History Month in February, and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter officially recognized the month.
At KCIC, we encourage everyone to take time to learn, read and converse about Black history, and to celebrate by attending local events and supporting organizations that work to improve Black lives. We share resources, ideas and information to enrich understanding.
This month is for all of us — and celebrating the richness of diversity and inclusion is something we as a company focus year-round, not just in February.
I have shared how we came together after George Floyd’s murder — not to check a box by making a statement, but to really challenge ourselves, as individuals and as an organization, to embark on a journey together, a journey of learning, listening and reflection.
I am so proud of the efforts we have undertaken and the vitality of the internal conversations that have resulted. Our Diversity and Inclusion Team and our newest Core Value are now fully part of the fabric of KCIC. And we have been reaching beyond our own organization, sharing our experience with clients and industry partners, in hopes of sparking productive dialogue, growth and change.
One example was the panel I co-moderated with Mahsa Kashani Tippins of DCo LLC during the DRI Asbestos Medicine Seminar in November. It received the highest ratings of the whole conference. Next month at ABA in Tuscon, KCIC’s Robert Parrish will lead a similar panel.
Again and again, one lesson keeps being affirmed: ordinary conversations about race and differences build a foundation of trust. We need to keep trying to have those conversations, even when they are hard — especially when they are hard.
Trust is broken each time another life is lost to a violent act of hate. Again and again, the world has been made witness to brutality — and the effect is traumatic, both for communities and individuals. Fragile trust gets broken.
Like a candle that keeps being extinguished in the wind, we must keep trying to be a light in our own families, communities, workplaces, and friend circles. Find those who are willing to listen to your concerns and experiences. Share your burden, your fears. Admit what you don’t understand. If the weight of it all feels to heavy, please seek help.
In the words of the Ella J. Baker, an African American civil rights and human rights activist:
"Give light and people will find the way."
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Jonathan Terrell is the Founder and President of KCIC. He has more than 30 years of international financial services experience with a multi-disciplinary background in accounting, finance and insurance. Prior to founding KCIC in 2002, he worked at Zurich Financial Services, JP Morgan, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.Learn More About Jonathan