It is the first week of March. As the snow melts away and the days start to get warmer with the promise of Spring, we round out the final days of a societal focus on Black History. As media attention, business dollars, and hashtags start to fade away, we want to be very clear: EVOLVE to Lead celebrates Black History, Black Present, and Black Future EVERY month. We recognize Black Excellence in Action every day, not just when the world is paying attention during the 28 days of February. We live by the framework of Reflecting, Revealing, and Reimagining to achieve fruitful transformation, whether that be in business, leadership, or Black Excellence in Action. Within our Black leadership community, embodying Excellence in Action looks like taking the time to (1) reflect on the historic and present injustices that Black folks face, (2) reveal the type of change they can be active participants in, and (3) reimagine what the world looks like when ALL Black folks can claim their power. Let’s look at some of the most progressive Black community leaders that define our past, present, and future and ask ourselves how we can continue their pioneering work.
Black Excellence in Action of the Past, Present and Future
For generations, Black Evolutionary Leaders have epitomized Excellence in Action. Harriet Tubman refused to withstand the violence of slavery, revealed the way to freedom for herself and so many others, and reimagined how Black folks could have autonomy over their lives. Rosa Parks reflected on how absurd it was to sit in the back of the bus after a hard day of work, demanded respect for her humanity, and fueled nationwide protests that reimagined laws that gave some power to those that felt powerless.
This past year, we have witnessed our nation face no other choice than to combat systemic racism head on. We have seen leaders rise up like phoenixes, simultaneously lifting up AND being lifted up by their communities. When Stacy Abrams reflected on how she lost her gubernatorial race, it was revealed that she herself had to do the job of getting a record number of Democratic voters to turn up to the elections. She made history in November. We think of Vice President Kamala Harris, who reflected on the broken system that she actively participated in that allowed so many Black folks in prison while she was Attorney General of California, revealing that she had to work within the system to fix it, and can now act on her reimagination of the future of Black folks when she became the first African American and Asian American Vice President of the United States. She made history in January.
These leaders have shaped the past and present of Black Excellence in Action. How do we follow in their footsteps as the Evolutionary Leaders who will define our future?
Black Evolutionary Leadership in Baltimore
Evolutionary Leaders have a high level of emotional intelligence and self-awareness. They realize that forward momentum is created only through the interconnectivity of their community. By reflecting, revealing, and reimagining, evolutionary leaders are willing to fail forward in pursuit of a higher vision. At EVOLVE to Lead, we believe that this is what Black Evolutionary Leadership looks like in Baltimore today:
- A’niya Taylor, Poet and Youth Activist, is a force we should all be listening to. A’Niya is a mirror, storyteller, and accountability partner. She engages with thoughtfulness, intensity, and a clear vision of how to achieve her desired outcomes.
- Monique Brown, Lieutenant Colonel of the Baltimore Police Department, demonstrates resilience by leading with vulnerability and excellence. She is rooted to her community by humility and empathy. Monique moves with AND for her village, listening deeply AND acting with courage every day.
- Jonathan Moore, Founder and CEO of RowdyOrbit, knows the importance of inclusion and letting those most affected by a change by a part of that change. By empowering the collective IQ of his village to move EVERYONE forward, Jonathon seeks to be a helper — not a hero, a key quality of evolutionary leadership.
- Iya Dammons, Founder and Executive Director of Baltimore Safe Haven, has clear integrity. Iya amplifies the voice of and protects the LGBTQ community at all costs. She is a bold maker of places and spaces for those who are too often ignored.
These are just a few Black leaders in Baltimore who are making history NOW. Black Evolutionary Leaders should not only be at the forefront of our dialogue during Black History Month. This month and every month after that, we’re celebrating Black Evolutionary Leaders. We’re giving Black Evolutionary Leaders the acknowledgment and gratitude they deserve. We’re applauding Black Evolutionary Leaders and the work they do for the betterment of ALL of us.
How Can You Be an Evolutionary Leader?
By adopting EVOLVE to Lead’s values of Vision, Resilience, Inclusion, Integrity, and Excellence in Action, you too can become an evolutionary leader and contribute to the pursuit of equity and justice for Black folks. Begin this journey by asking yourself these four questions:
- What was an instance in your life when you felt powerless, or that something you felt you inherently deserved was completely unattainable? Reflect on these moments to better understand where inequities lie.
- How can you use the collective intelligence of your community to push your vision forward? What are your strengths and what skills do you lack that others excel in? Reveal how you can tap into and learn from others to strive for change together.
- How are you staking your claim as a Black Leader in your community? How are you attaining the power that is rightfully yours, and helping others do the same? Reimagine what it means to fully take ownership of your power and impact as a Black Leader.
- If you have been invited to be an ally, how are you supporting Black Leaders? Reimagine what it means to hold space for Black Leaders reclaiming their power.
EVOLVE to Lead Celebrates Black Leaders Always
Whether you are one of your community’s Black leaders or an ally for all Black folks, you can benefit from reflecting, revealing, and reimagining the world you want to live in–a world where Black people are fully supported, empowered, and living completely in our power. We urge you to realize that Black History is continually being shaped every day. That celebrating Black History neither starts nor ends in February. So, can we count on you to support Black Evolutionary Leaders 365 days a year?