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Why Black History Month empowers us to say #Iseeme

By: Leah Murphy, Lead of Campbell’s Black Resource Group

 

I come from a family of powerful, dynamic women. I’m a fusion of them all, but especially of my mother, whose sincerity, generous spirit and fierce loyalty make her my North Star. The power these women exude is measured not by title or position, but by wisdom, and by understanding the more you give it away, the more you get back.

 

Me with my mom and sister.

 

When we see someone who looks like us achieve success, we beam with pride — a collective #Iseeme moment that feeds our motivation and keeps us on course.

 

My first #Iseeme moment came in second grade with Mrs. Francine Johnson, my first black female teacher. It was the first time I had experienced representation outside my family. Mrs. Johnson had an eye for detail and style, with her hair in a flawless 1980s mushroom cut, and her fingernails perfectly painted.

Even more, she had an amazing, witty way with words, a good nature and a no-nonsense attitude. Her class was exactly where I wanted to be, and she was who I aspired to be. By her example, she inspired me every day that I too could be an educated, charming, and beautiful black woman.

Years later in college, I joined the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and attended conferences hosting more than 8,000 young, bright, ambitious, black future engineers. It was intensely affirming to be with people who looked like me and shared my career passion.

 

 

I always left those conferences feeling rejuvenated and reassured that this community was a hidden gem and my engagement was going to help me get where I needed to be.

After I was recruited through NSBE to General Mills, I immediately joined their Black Champions Network (BCN). The BCN community welcomed me and supported my development with mentors, advocates, sponsors and doses of tough love that fueled my success.

The importance of representation became crystal clear a year later when I met Denise Holloman, an articulate female executive and compelling powerhouse. She was the first black engineer and mentor that had a significant influence on my life! Not only did she confirm that reaching senior levels of leadership was possible, but she also helped set me on a course to get there.

 

Today, as a mother raising young black children, I am compelled to be their first #Iseeme moment.

 

I want to flood their lives with examples of representation because so many stories have yet to be told.

The work we do in Campbell’s Black Resource Group is an invaluable investment in paying forward that power through representation. We bring our employees together to celebrate the African diaspora, the impact our ancestors had on our society and the trail we can blaze together through an inclusive workforce that can confidently say, “I see me.”

Seeing people who look like us doing and being what we aspired to do brings our aspirations within reach. That is power.

 

 

Featured image by Valerio Davis.

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  • Thank you for sharing your story and this powerful message Leah, and I loved the video with so many of my friends in it! :o)