Black History Month is a time to reflect on the significance of being part of the Black community, pay tribute to past activists who fought for racial equality, and celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of Black Americans. It is a reminder that Black history is an integral part of our history and Black culture is an essential component of our culture. The month provides context for our present, and a deeper understanding of the challenges that members of the Black community still face today.
Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) selects a theme for Black History Month, with the intention of drawing public attention to important developments. The 2023 theme “Black Resistance” highlights the triumphs, successes, and progress achieved through resistance, including the end of slavery, the dismantling of Jim and Jane Crow segregation, increased political representation, desegregation of educational institutions, and increased representation of Black experiences in media.
DB Schenker is participating in the celebration of Black History Month by highlighting some of its team members. Keenan Davis, Senior Director of People & Organization Business Partner, Markayzia Dennis, Sr. Operations Manager, and others shared their thoughts on working for DB Schenker, the meaning of Black History Month, and how they live the company’s values. They emphasized the company’s focus on people as its competitive advantage and its commitment to diversity, authenticity, and growth.
Keenan Davis, Senior Director of People & Organization Business Partner at DB Schenker, highlights the focus on people as the best part of working for the company. He says, “I appreciate our focus on People as our competitive advantage. I’m proud to work for a company that truly values diversity and ensuring that everyone has a voice and a seat at the table.”
For Davis, Black History Month holds a lot of personal meaning. “Black History Month to me means resilience. It speaks to the courage and determination of enslaved Africans and their descendants who insisted on equality and having equal opportunity to life’s most precious civil liberties. It also serves as a reminder to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that I could have access to all that life has to offer,” added Davis.
As a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a traditionally Black male fraternal organization, Davis has a special tradition during Black History Month. He explains, “Each year during the month of February, members of my Fraternity’s local chapter recognize Black citizens in our community for contributions they’ve made locally. It’s important that we keep [Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s] dream alive by recognizing some of our local unsung heroes for their achievements, as well as their impact on the quality of life for humanity in general.”
When it comes to living the DB Schenker’s values, Davis says he lives the values of Excellence, Teamwork, and Integrity by pushing limits, and not settling for the status quo. Keenan believes in never settling for less and always striving for excellence, both in his work and personal life. He is driven by challenges and the idea of showing how things can be accomplished, making him a valuable asset to the company and his community.
Robert Lester, Director of Transactional Services, shares his thoughts on what this month means to him and how he lives DB Schenker’s values at work and in his community.
“Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the contributions and achievements of the Black community throughout history,” Lester says. “It’s a time to reflect on the progress we’ve made, and to also acknowledge the work that still needs to be done to achieve equality and justice for all.”
For Lester, this month is about learning and growing, both personally and with his family. “I make it a point to learn something new every year, and I encourage my family to do the same,” he explains. “There are so many incredible stories and accomplishments to discover, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as a community.”
In addition to learning and growing, Lester also focuses on giving back to his community and helping those in need. He takes his commitment to DB Schenker’s values seriously and strives to embody them both at work and in his personal life. “Commitment is at the forefront of everything I do, starting with my faith,” he says. “I believe that we’re all called to be the light of the world and to show mercy to the poor, outcast, and disenfranchised.”
Lester shares a particularly meaningful experience he had while helping his mother’s church distribute jackets to the needy. “It was a humbling moment to listen to someone who many would expect to be just a drunk or a drug addict, and then realize that this person was highly intelligent and a better listener than most people who are paid to do it,” he says. “Every person deserves respect and compassion, and it’s our job to commit ourselves to doing that every day.”
As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s take inspiration from Lester’s commitment to learning, growing, and making a positive impact in our communities. Let’s continue to strive for equality, justice, and respect for all people, every day.
Markayzia Dennis, Sr. Operations Manager, is proud to be a part of a company that supports her in being her authentic self. With a supportive team of leaders who are invested in her growth and development, Dennis feels confident in her future with the company. Not only has DB Schenker had a positive impact on her career, but it has also positively impacted her life. She abides by the leadership principles not only at work, but in her personal life as well, making her a better leader, mother, and partner.
For Dennis, Black History Month is a time to reflect on the profound leaders and innovators who came before her and paved the way for true opportunity and freedom. She is proud of her history and heritage and is inspired by their perseverance and strength. “Black History Month represents forward progression and a reminder to continue pushing for progress,” shared Dennis.
In both her work and community, Dennis strives to live out DB Schenker’s values by pushing the limits and not settling for “No”. She takes her customers further by providing excellent service and additional support, and actively leads by being visible and available to her team. By “walking the talk”, Dennis continues to drive forward progress and make a positive impact.
Akin Aboaba, who is part of our Contract Logistics team in Canada, shared his thoughts on working at DB Schenker and the significance of Black History Month.
“I love working at DB Schenker because they have a clear focus on the customer, and their goal is to always provide excellent service. I also appreciate that we work in a team, so I feel like I’m a part of something bigger,” shared Aboaba.
For him, Black History Month is a celebration of the achievements of Black people throughout history. It’s a time to recognize the many contributions that have been made to overcome past adversity as well as to appreciate the rich cultural heritage and diversity that they bring to our society. Aboaba emphasized the importance of recognizing and appreciating the accomplishments of Black people in our history as well as a time to reflect on how far Black people have come and how much further they can go.
Aboaba embodies DB Schenker’s values of Excellence, Teamwork, and Integrity, “I live the DB Schenker’s values of Excellence, Teamwork, and Integrity in my work and in my community at large by always striving to do the best I can. I am always willing to go above and beyond what is expected of me, even when it may be difficult or inconvenient…I believe integrity is one of the most important values because it shows others what kind of person you are at heart.”
Michael Hill, Manager of Digital and Social Media, views Black History as an integral part of history and sees Black History Month as a chance to learn about the many contributions and achievements of Black historical figures.
In honor of Black History Month, Hill supports Black businesses, continues to educate himself, and shares Black History Month facts on his social media. Hill believes that supporting Black businesses helps protect livelihoods and supports Black entrepreneurs. He also makes it a point to educate himself by reading articles, books, and watching movies.
Two of Hill’s favorite places to learn about Black history are the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in his hometown of Detroit, MI. These museums are great resources for learning more about the rich history of prominent Black figures and their continued fight for equity and freedom.