In 1926 Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard trained historian, also known as the “Father of Black History Month,” sent out a press release to mark the first Black History Week in the US. He believed that truth could not be denied, and that reason would prevail over prejudice. Throughout his life Carter worked tirelessly to promote black history in schools, leaving indelible legacy. Black History Month expanded in 1970, and since 1976 every US president has officially designated February as Black History Month.
Black History Month gives us the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture while also recognizing the contributions and achievements of those with African or Caribbean heritage. Two of our team members, Shannon Johnson, Senior Accountant, and Whitney Carnes, Leasing Consultant at Rosemont Vinings Ridge, shared a piece of their history with us as we celebrate Black History Month:
Shannon Johnson, Senior Accountant
What is your tenure at Buckingham? It will be 10 years this month.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your heritage? I have a very diverse heritage. My grandmother, Elnora Henderson, told me her father was a full blood Cherokee Indian. She was the head pediatric nurse at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital on Fall Creek as a graduate from The University of Cincinnati School of Nursing.
But I am most proud of my Great Uncle, Roscoe Polin, who is my grandmother’s brother. He was a renowned pianist and served as the National President of the National Association of Negro Musicians from 1952 to 1960. Growing up, I did not realize how cultured my family was in the arts. He taught me to play the piano, but I took it for granted and did not know that he had taught many famous people before me. He had a baby grand piano in his tiny living room, and I could not figure why. It was not until he passed away that I had learned more about him and could appreciate him and the legacy he left behind.
What inspires you each day? I am inspired each day to do more, learn more, and be more because I want my grandchildren to be proud to have me as their grandmother. I want them to understand what their ancestors sacrificed for them to be here today. I know I appreciate every story I was told while growing up, and I do not take any of it for granted.
Whitney Carnes, Leasing Consultant at Rosemont Vinings Ridge
Tenure at Buckingham: Two years last November.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your Heritage? I come from a civil rights family and spent a lot of time with my Great Aunt Rosa Parks. Knowing her molded me into the person I am today. She taught me the importance of kindness, justice, family and perseverance. I have dined at White House twice and attended countless events with her such as her 1994 Medal of Freedom ceremony with President Clinton. I also attended her statue unveiling in our nation’s capital under President Obama and all three of her funerals in 2005.
What is your secret talent? I come from a long line of artists and graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from Georgia State University last December. I plan on obtaining my master’s degree in psychology. I also am a freelance writer for http://www.blackartinamerica.com where I cover artist profiles, studio visits, gallery openings and art exhibits.
I am most proud of my creativity; I always find myself being expressive, and I find it is not something I am doing rather who I am. On any giving occasion you could find me sculpting with an angle saw, growing my surreal photography portfolio, growing broccoli sprouts in my kitchen, or painting a portrait for loved ones. When I realized how many artists were in my family, I understood creativity is truly my birthright.
Thank you, Shannon and Whitney, for sharing a piece of your story. In honor of Black History Month, Buckingham Foundation will be making a donation on behalf of Buckingham employees to the National Urban League, an organization that works to provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for the underserved in America. We are honored to further our partnership with the National Urban League and support their mission.