For me, Black History Month is about progression.
It is about recognizing that those before me went through a tremendous amount of struggle, sacrifice and adversity. Because of their relentless tenacity, doors exist now that, before, did not. It’s also about the present and the future, and how each one of us have an opportunity to create and open new doors moving forward.
During this time of reflection, I often find myself thinking about an event that occurred 60 years ago this month. In February of 1960, students participated in a sit-in at a Greensboro, NC lunch counter after being denied service because of the color of their skin. At the time, it was common for restaurants to be segregated, but this movement commanded national attention and a call for change. While so much has changed since then, many that dine in our restaurants every day have actual memories of that time. I was reminded of this fact the night my Grandma, Marie Hoggs, dined at LongHorn Steakhouse in Atlanta, GA.
Throughout her life, my Grandma was an active participant in the civil rights movement, helping to gain Black voter and women’s rights. She was also a talented cook, and her hospitality was unmatched. When she was 94 years old, she traveled all the way from her home in Gary, IN to dine with me. Because I was the Managing Partner of the newest LongHorn in Atlanta.
As the evening wrapped, she leaned in close to me. She grabbed my hand and whispered in my ear, “Girl, this has been quite a night. There have been days in my life where I couldn’t go in the front door. It’s incredible to dine in a restaurant where my Granddaughter’s name is above the front door. How far we have come...”
My promotion was her progression.
Black History is being written every day, and each one of us has an opportunity and responsibility to write a better chapter than those that have come before us. One that reflects a history of progression. One that includes a legacy of creating doors and leaving them open for everyone.