Black History Month Reflections from NCDPS Employees

“As an African-American, black history for me is celebrated daily not just one month out the year, but the entire 365 days of the year by thanking God for the lives sacrificed and barriers torn down so that I could have equal rights/equality of life in this country. I celebrate daily.” ~ Windy Harris Rogers, Individual Assistance/Public Assistance Reservist with NC Emergency Management
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 5:40pm

Since 1976, every US president has designated February as Black History Month. This month-long recognition is a celebration of achievements by African-Americans and honors the role the black community has played in US history.

Diversity and inclusion is a core value of the NC Department of Public Safety, and we are proud to recognize the many African-American trailblazers who have served within the department. Celebrating African-American heritage throughout February is a great way to learn about cultural traditions and cherished memories of NCDPS employees and the communities they serve. Many members of NCDPS attended community events throughout the month, serving as panelists, delivering keynote speeches or simply attending to honor the memories of those who have made a difference.

We asked NCDPS personnel to share what Black History Month means to them, whether it is a favorite memory, historical figure, family member or compelling tradition. Here are their stories.

“It means my nephew can sit down and have ice-cream with sprinkles (with an occasional brain freeze) anywhere in this nation because someone sat for him and his future at Woolworths in Greensboro, NC, over 50 years ago.”
~ LeeAnne N. Lawrence, Attorney for NC Emergency Management
“An individual who has had a tremendous influence in my life was Colonel Richard Holden, who was the first African-American commander of the NCSHP. I first met him when I was a trooper during a ceremony in his office recognizing me for a criminal interdiction traffic stop. Over the years he became my mentor, and we developed a wonderful professional and personal relationship. His personality was larger than life and his powerful presence was always felt whenever he entered a room. I have no doubt that his influence led me to serve in my current role as commander. Every day, and especially during Black History Month, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve in this position knowing that he served in it first.”
~ Colonel Glenn McNeill, Jr., Commander of the NC State Highway Patrol
“On one level when I think of Black History Month, I am reminded and encouraged by the contributions of such icons as Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, John Lewis, Malcom X and Rep. Adam Clayton Powell. Yet on a far more personal level, I look daily to my own beginnings, clinging to the bright examples shown to me and my four siblings by my parents, Clifford and Catherine Brown, an educator and a nurse. I am lifted up by the examples set forth to me by my grandparents George and Ruby Stowe, who bore the struggles of raising a family during the great depression. For me, Black History Month is a time to reflect on the powerful shoulders that I now stand on, as a benefactor of the values, strength and fortitude of the many elders that came before me, paving the way, moving the ‘ball’ forward just a little bit at a time. However, I am most directly inspired by the examples of manhood, a powerful work ethic and the faith in God that was instilled in me by what I saw and experienced every day in my home, my church, at Christmas dinner and so many other family gatherings. These lessons helped to shape the adult that I have become.”
~ Peter Brown, Facility Director for Stonewall Jackson YDC 
“As an optimist, Black History Month reminds me of just how far we have come as Americans to be able to elect a black man as President not only once but twice. As a realist, it reminds me, particularly in light of recent events, of just how far we still need to go to work towards true racial equality. Black History Month also reminds me of my wonderful friends of color like Andrea Harris of Self-Help whom I consider to be a true civil rights pioneer and Colonel Glenn McNeill, Commander of the State Highway Patrol. These leaders possess unparalleled integrity, are always eager to mentor me and help me to be a better person.”
~ Mike Sprayberry, Director of NC Emergency Management
“The importance of celebrating black history is not only just remembering the struggle for equality but recognizing the accomplishments gained. From the words of Thurgood Marshall, ‘Recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.’”
 ~ Charles Dingle, Facility Director for Chatham YDC 
“As an African-American, black history for me is celebrated daily not just one month out the year, but the entire 365 days of the year by thanking God for the lives sacrificed and barriers torn down so that I could have equal rights/equality of life in this country. I celebrate daily.”
~ Windy Harris Rogers, Individual Assistance/Public Assistance Reservist with NC Emergency Management