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How We Dig Deeper Into Black History Month by Sharing Stories and Perspectives

March 16, 2022

Observing Black History Month is one of the many ways we celebrate our communities at Armanino. Through the efforts of our IDEAL team, we commemorated and reflected on remarkable African Americans who have left enduring legacies by igniting a desire for hope and change.

This year, IDEAL asked our people to submit their own nominees for key figures in Black history. We wanted to highlight historical figures who have inspired us, while also sharing the stories of lesser-known African Americans, deepening our conversations about what it means to be Black in America and celebrating the strength of people who have survived and thrived despite a generations-long diaspora caused by enslavement, violence and prejudice.

Some of Our Spotlights

In the spirit of sharing stories of Black excellence with a wider audience and encouraging learning and conversations that facilitate understanding, here are a few notable Black History Month spotlights submitted by our team:

  • Claudette Colvin was nominated as a pioneer of the civil rights movement who, in 1955 and at the age of 15, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, for a white woman, noting that she’d paid the same fare for her seat and had the constitutional right to the seat she paid for. Eventually, Claudette became one of the plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, the first federal lawsuit challenging bus segregation in a city. Judges in the case struck down Alabama’s state and local laws requiring segregated buses, and the case was affirmed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Claudette’s remarkable act and bravery at a young age inspired Rosa Parks to famously refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus several months later. An inspiring figure in Black history, Claudette made an extraordinary impact on desegregation and demonstrated integrity for standing up for what she knew was right and fair.
  • George Floyd was nominated for our spotlight because of how his death shined a light on the interactions between African Americans and the police. Following George’s death in 2020 at the hands of police, Americans of all races have started having conversations that can spark accountability and real change to move our nation forward.
  • Eunice Kathleen Waymon, better known as Nina Simone, was nominated for a spotlight not only because she was a prolific and gifted musician, but also because she was a civil rights activist whose music embodied the struggles and suffering of the Black community. Nina’s music could not be defined by critics, which suited her just fine; she wanted her music to be heard, felt and appreciated by a larger audience. She realized she had to reach the masses to invoke change and knew she was finding a foothold when her 1964 song “Mississippi Goddam” was banned in the South for its frank messages about race and the struggles she and others like her were enduring. Nina wrote out the lyrics, “All I want is equality / For my sister my brother my people and me,” plainly stating the desire for change to be brought to the forefront and be acknowledged and recognized by broader communities. The Library of Congress selected the song for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
  • Our spotlight of Joseph Rainey centered on how, in 1870, he became the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives. Joseph was born into slavery but escaped to Bermuda, where he became very successful and well-respected. By his own choice, Joseph later returned to a post-Civil War South Carolina to lead. Serving in Congress put not only his life in danger, but also those of his family members. While Joseph was not perfect, he was a critical figure in Black history for his service in Congress and for taking one of the first steps in improving the lives of future Black Americans.

In addition to these highlights, we spotlighted our Black employees internally and shared perspectives of our own team members on LinkedIn throughout the month, using our platform to share firsthand experiences, stories and thoughts on Black History Month and ensuring these messages reach a wider audience. Amplifying Black voices and sharing more on the experience of being Black in America today is part of our commitment to build more inclusive and understanding communities where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

Increasing Black Inclusion in Accounting and Consulting

We also held a Black History Month event, as we have in years past, to bring outside perspectives to Armanino and have discussions on increasing Black inclusion in the accounting and technology industries. Erby Foster, CFO & COO of the San Francisco-based nonprofit GLIDE and past president of the National Association of Black Accountants, and Erick Bell, professor of accounting at Las Positas College and chairman of the board of ACAP (an accounting career awareness program for people of color), joined us for a thoughtful discussion.

Both speakers shared perspectives on how we can create new and deeper connections that will lead to more Black students choosing careers in accounting and consulting, and our team shared ideas and feedback about ways to make Armanino more inclusive. To us, these events are at once celebratory of Black history and achievements and necessary conversations we must have to continue the work necessary to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive firm and industry.

Throughout the year, we’ll continue to celebrate Black excellence and mark Black history through IDEAL’s efforts, as well as events such as the Armanino Foundation’s Volunteer Vacations to Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District (aka “Black Wall Street”) and San Juan, Texas to work with migrant families, including the current increase of Haitian immigrants.

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