Stream is proud to have a diverse mix of professionals who collectively make us a stronger team. We stand together to celebrate Black History Month and to acknowledge the challenges we face and the progress we’ve made—together moving forward, creating a positive impact.
The Beginning of Black History Month
Black History Month originated from a weeklong event, started in 1915 by historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse Moorland, to encourage schools and communities to organize celebrations, performances and lectures. The event was elevated by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and soon became a month-long celebration—officially declared as Black History Month in the U.S. by President Gerald Ford in February 1976.
Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate Black Americans’ many achievements throughout history. Significant contributors to our country’s development include:
- Maya Angelou – Civil Rights Activist, Author, Poet
- Alice Ball – Chemist who developed the first successful treatment for leprosy
- Josephine Baker – Singer, Dancer, Civil Rights Activist
- Joycelyn Elders – First Black U.S. Surgeon General
- Mary Jackson – Scientist, Mathematician, NASA’s First Black Female Engineer
- Martin Luther King, Jr. – Baptist Minister and Social Activist
- Thurgood Marshall – First Black Supreme Court Justice
- Barack Obama – First Black U.S. President
- Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist
- Colin Powell – U.S. Secretary of State, Four-Star General in the U.S. Army
- Dr. Condoleezza Rice – First Black U.S. National Security Advisor, Stanford University
- Jackie Robinson – First Black MLB Baseball Player
- Mariya Russell – Chef, first Black woman to be awarded a Michelin Star
- Harriet Tubman – Underground Railroad “Conductor,” Civil Rights Activist
More Than a Celebration
Black History Month is significant well beyond a celebration. The ongoing recognition of and engagement with our country’s history is what gives context to the present. Black History Month provides an opportunity to see the systemic barriers Black people have faced and are still working to overcome today. Director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Dr. Theodore R. Johnson declared “Black History Month has never been just a celebration of Black America’s achievements and stories—it’s part of a deliberate political strategy to be recognized as equal citizens.”
Honoring Black History Month with Black CRE Leaders
With that equality in mind, Black History Month is a great time to think about company diversity and inclusion efforts. Stream established the Stream of Color ESG subcommittee to deliver on diversity strategies.
To join the celebration, some of our brightest stars shared their reflections from Black History Month—defining what the celebration means to them.
Stream’s Dream Team
Kim Morgan, Stream Property Management, Atlanta
On the significance of Black History Month
As a child during history class, there was one week where teachers would talk about slavery and racial inequality—and that was it. Everything else in history class was about everyone else who did not look like me. From George Washington Carver and Marie M. Daly, and Katherine Johnson to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. All are pioneers in their field, but I never heard of them until I got to college. That’s why Black History Month is so important as an opportunity to share the accomplishments Black Americans have made and continue to make to this country.
Dov Clayton, Stream Project Accounting, Dallas
I am proud that we (in accounting) have one of the most diverse departments in the company. Here I have an opportunity to learn about other cultures, countries, and the journey my colleagues have taken to get to this point. I believe that if you understand someone’s history, you can better see their humanity; enhancing every interaction you have with them. That understanding is just one reason that Black History Month is so important to me.
Malik Leaphart, Stream Leasing, Atlanta
On inclusion and being heard
Following racial tensions across the U.S.—and especially in Atlanta—with riots and different movements, the President of Stream reached out to ask me what we could do as a company. The Stream of Color Committee was established so our voices would be heard. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but as a unit, working together, we can promote inclusivity, create more opportunities, and achieve workplace diversity.
Jasmine Carruthers, Stream Property Management, Houston
On opportunities and advice
Stream has provided me the opportunity to lead. It’s a big deal for me, because growing up, I have seen and experienced discrimination. I always worried that no matter how smart I was or how much value I brought to the table—it would never be enough to reach a leadership or managerial role. Those worries faded when I started at Stream. As soon there was an opportunity I was promoted. The firm has allowed me to lead, be a manager, and contribute to the diversity committee.
The advice I would give my younger self would be to never settle for less. Don’t stay back or wait for an opportunity. Instead, leap forward, even if you are told “no”—just keep trying, keep going, set goals, persevere, keep going and you will get there.
Keeping Up the Momentum
When we think about Black History, we cannot simply look at the past—stop and look around and you’ll notice all the ways history is still being made today. Consider the Black female entrepreneurs shaking up Silicon Valley or the enormous impact made by Robert F. Smith (America’s richest Black person) who donated $40 million dollars to cancel out student loans for graduates of Morehouse College (a prestigious HBCUs*).
This Black History Month, in addition to honoring the legacy and contributions of Black Americans, we hope our own team has inspired you to think critically about opportunity, diversity, and inclusion in your own workplace.
*Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)