Celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth at Vanguard

During this year’s Black History Month, Vanguard hosted a company-wide celebration, bringing crew together near and far.

The Vanguard Black Professional Network (VBPN) kicked off February with a keynote event featuring Mehrsa Baradaran, bank scholar, associate dean at the School of Law at the University of Georgia, and author of The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.

In an effort to build connections globally, VBPN also introduced The Diaspora blog series, where crew shared personal stories that highlight the rich cultural heritage and diversity of the VBPN community.

We invite you to read the following excerpts from these #InclusionatVanguard stories that have also been shared personally on LinkedIn.

Algreen Bakasa’s Story

Today, I am heavily involved in the community both at work and outside of work, and strive to maximize every opportunity I receive by paying it forward. By helping create better opportunities for disadvantaged minority children and young adults, I hope they receive an opportunity that will change their trajectory like the one afforded me.

During this year’s Black History Month, I challenge you to take the time to really know the unique stories of those around you, learn their culture, and what makes them tick. As a global organization, Vanguard has crew from many diverse backgrounds with unique experiences and perspectives. What keeps me motivated each day is knowing that: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Antonia Singleton’s Story

Growing up in Harlem, despite the crime and war on drugs, there were many fun, community uplifting and educational events and traditions that I loved to take part in with my family. My top three traditions were: attending the African American Day Parade in Harlem, The Million Youth March, and block parties during the summer on Saturdays. The African American Day Parade in Harlem was an opportunity for people around the world to come and celebrate black people and black culture in America just two short blocks away from where I grew up. My dad took my sister and I to the Million Youth March every year from inception until it tapered off. He wanted us to be aware of what was going on in the country with regards to the African American community and how we were treated. He wanted us to listen to and learn from the leaders in our community, as they usually shared what we could do as young black children in America to help make a difference.

Ajaa Jackson’s Story

Growing up with my grandmother, I gained a sincere appreciation for diverse cultures.  She taught me at an early age there were places far away from Sierra Vista, Arizona where people lived similarly yet differently from us. My grandmother spoke on the phone—to me what seemed like all the time—with family in Ethiopia and friends across the U.S. I would listen to her speak in Tigrinya, Italian, and English, sharing boastful laughter with family and friends. She also regularly hosted friends for coffee. The delight of roasted coffee bean smoke mixed with incense frequently permeated the house—a smell I’ll never forget. She loved bright colors, both in her home and clothing, which complemented her unquenchable zest for life.

Our family got to share my grandmother’s satisfaction of achieving her dream of becoming an American citizen in 2002.

Although she is no longer in this life with us, her spirit lives on in our family. She is preceded by her siblings in Axum, Ethiopia. In February, I will be taking what I hope is my first of many trips to Ethiopia. My grandmother’s love of Ethiopia has always fueled my desire to visit, and this trip is a lifelong dream come true!

Shauna Collick’s Story

While I’m blessed to have many amazing family members, the moment I was asked to write a blog representing a piece of my history, I immediately thought of my paternal grandmother. As a youth, I vividly remember when she would take me to nursing homes and hospitals. She would always tell me to smile at the patients, look them in the eye, and that it’s okay to give them a gentle touch of affection on their hand or shoulder. Because of that experience, I started having my daughter visit local nursing homes when she was in preschool. She would hand out her art work and it would inevitably be the highlight of someone’s day.

My grandmother demonstrated that you can rise up from poverty and live a fulfilling life if you put God first, work hard, pursue education, and use political, economic, and social influence to improve your community.

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