Local 1000 Celebrates Black History Month
Amanda Gorman – youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history
Storied careers were on full display at the January 20, 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden, from politicians to entertainers. But the breakout star of the event was Amanda Gorman, who at 22 years old became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” that called for Americans to “rebuild, reconcile, and recover” from deeply rooted divides and racial inequities, particularly during a time of unprecedented illness, death, political strife and calls for racial justice across the country. Gorman finished writing her poem shortly after the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol Building and drew inspiration from the speeches of American leaders during other historic times of division, including Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The young poet, author, and activist grew up in Los Angeles and began writing as a way to cope with a speech impediment. By age 16 she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of LA, and at 19 she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard.
Gorman, who writes about race and gender, was invited to the
swearing-in ceremony by First Lady Jill Biden and follows in the
footsteps of inaugural poets Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.
During her reading, Gorman wore a ring with a caged bird, a gift
from Oprah for the occasion and a tribute to symbolize Angelou
and her autobiographical work “I Know Why the Caged Bird
- Jennifer Liu
Raphael Warnock – Georgia’s first Black senator
In January 2021, Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler in a contentious and highly publicized runoff election. His victory created a path for Democrats to gain control of the Senate and made Warnock the State of Georgia’s first Black senator as well as the first Black Democrat Senator from the South since the Reconstruction Era.
Warnock, 51, grew up in Savannah, Georgia, graduated from Morehouse College cum laude in 1991 and in 2005 became the youngest senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church — where Martin Luther King Jr. was also a pastor — since the church was founded in 1886.
In a live-streamed victory speech, Warnock reflected on the historic nature of his election as well as on his mother, who in the 1950s picked cotton and tobacco.
“The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton
went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United
States senator,” said Warnock. “The improbable journey that led
me to this place in this historic moment in America could only
- Abigail Johnson Hess
Rashida Jones – MSNBC president and first Black executive to run a major television news network
“Journalism is such a complicated industry,” Rashida Jones said at a 2015 conference at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. “If you really want to be a next-level journalist that’s coloring the history of our world, that’s the only reason you should be on this path.”
In her eight years at MSNBC and her 21 years in the business, that’s exactly what Jones has been doing. On February 1, 2021, Jones started her new role as president at MSNBC, making her the first Black executive to lead a major television news network.
Jones was previously senior vice president of news at MSNBC and NBC News, where she oversaw breaking news coverage, like the coronavirus pandemic and 2020 election. Jones set rating records for two townhall specials and helped oversee the second presidential debate, during which NBC correspondent Kristen Welker became only the second Black woman to moderate a presidential debate solo. (The first was ABC News journalist Carole Simpson in 1992.)
Jones has also helped to bring more diversity to MSNBC’s daytime and weekend schedule through executive decisions such as extending Nicolle Wallace’s show, “Deadline: White House.”
“Rashida fully understands and supports the importance of
representation, diversity, and inclusion,” said Dorothy Tucker,
president of the National Association of Black Journalists
(NABJ). “Her promotion is bigger than our industry; it’s the kind
of story Black and Brown children everywhere need to see so they
can know what’s possible.”
- Taylor Locke
Sandra Lindsay – first American to get the Covid-19 vaccine outside of trials
“I volunteered myself,” says critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay of becoming the first person in America to get the Covid-19 vaccine outside of a trial on December 14, 2020 in Queens, New York.
Lindsay, who emigrated from Jamaica in 1986 and became a nurse in 1994, oversees five critical care nursing units at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She’s seen how dangerous and erratic the virus can be, so she jumped at the chance to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“I didn’t know I was going to be the first in New York state, never mind the United States,” she told CNBC Make It.
Lindsay just wanted to lead by example for not only her staff, but also as a Black woman. Black people have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 due to racial health disparities and have historically experienced biased treatment by the medical community, which has led to distrust, including of vaccines. A survey published in December 2020 by Pew Research Center found that only 42% of Black Americans surveyed said they would get the Covid vaccine, the lowest of any racial or ethnic group.
“It was good that people see me as a Black woman taking it. I’m well aware of what has happened in the past. But I’m not afraid…what I’m afraid of more is getting this virus.”
Lindsay says since getting the vaccine, she has gotten letters
from around the world thanking her for her bravery. But Lindsay
says she volunteered for the same reason she became a nurse: She
just wanted to help people.
- Jade Scipioni