JOURNEY: You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.” – Anonymous
The Charleston region plays an important role in American history and the region bears profound significance to all members of the community. While our nation will never forget the many years of treacherous conditions, human bondage and enslavement, today we celebrate the historical and cultural traditions, contributions, and accomplishments of African Americans and Black Charlestonians.
It is often said, “we are not our history” or “don’t let your history define who you are,” but we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams. We are educators, doctors, business owners, program managers, engineers, police officers and the list continues. Charleston is fortunate to have many black leaders contributing to our region’s successful growth and continuous development. This month we’re celebrating the Charleston region and the accomplishments of a few select leaders.
Quoting former President of the United States Barack Obama, “I am the first black president, but I am not the president for one specific group of people.” Superintendent for Berkeley County School District, Deon Jackson, embraces his position and unique perspective as the first black Superintendent to serve ALL students, staff and community.
After research, Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, MD, realized America was experiencing high maternal and infant morbidity rates similar to third-world countries. Her findings led her to open her practice and provide innovative services, like Centering Pregnancy, to deliver a better birthing experience for women.
With a sacrificial spirit and passion for education, Frank Hatten uses his distinctive position with Boeing South Carolina as Program Manager, Education Relation Specialist, to reach back and transform the next generation. Under his leadership, Boeing South Carolina has set the standard and expectations for Boeing across the nation to achieve excellence in youth mentorship programs.
Giving back and leading as a positive influence on younger women in this community means everything to Sarina Freincle because she did not have these examples growing up. Being an example and role model to young women has fueled her desire to create La’Roc Brands to sell beauty products and provide services and demonstrate what it means to be a successful, black woman in the beauty industry.
Though not a loud voice in the community, family-owned engineering and construction management firm Atlantic South, LLC has landed revolutionary contracts in enhancing the Charleston region, like some of the renovations of Charleston International Airport and parking garage. Adrian and Christian Williams are proud and blessed that their unique position in this community allows them to educate youths about an industry that doesn’t have a lot of minority representation.
Being a black chief of police that serves a predominately black community, Chief Reggie Burgess impacts change by focusing on the people and not the color of their skin. The North Charleston Police Department has gained the public’s trust and enhanced relationships between black citizens and its officers by humanizing enforcement efforts.
As a first-generation college graduate from University of South Caroline, raised in the Charleston Farms neighborhood, Representative Marvin Pendarvis, Esq. experienced many challenges that could have deterred him from his path. Looking beyond the present situation and galvanized by President Barack Obama’s election and other mentors, that path led him back home to North Charleston to pursue his passion for serving his community and mentoring the next generation.
Our history has taught us that there is no option to give up when faced with adversity. We must remain resilient, serving as mentors and advisors creating an environment for generations of great Charleston leaders. Black History Month is an impactful reminder that acknowledging black stories, culture and history are essential to America’s past, present and future, and it does not stop on February 28.