By Bobby Wilkinson, California Zone Marketing Manager/Department Head at State Farm Insurance and Member of Out & Equal Board of Directors
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects us all indirectly.” These words, written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., remind us of the ways in which we are all connected and must each take the responsibility to advocate for equality.
During Black History month, I think of the powerful changes brought to our country by leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. And, I think of the sacrifices made by individuals like my grandparents and parents, who worked long hours building and refurbishing furniture to give their children and grandchildren good values and more opportunities for the future.
It is also important to me during this month to recognize the people who are currently fulfilling the dreams that were created for us by our ancestors and the leaders of the past. Barak Obama’s election as the first African American President and his courage in the face of so many challenges inspires me immensely. I also admire California’s current attorney general, Kamala Harris, who is the first African American woman to hold this office in a major state. These fine leaders are bringing forth changes that will benefit society for generations to come.
The great progress made around civil rights for African Americans is undeniable. But, there is still so much more to be done so that everyone can live in a world free of discrimination. Returning to Dr. King’s words, “whatever affects one directly, affects us all indirectly,” I believe that this month is not only about African Americans, but about the basic rights we’re all still fighting for, whether it’s equality for the Latin American community, equal rights for women, or full rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The lack of equality for every group affects us all as a society.
I hope to have the opportunity to contribute to bringing equality for LGBT individuals in the workplace by joining the Out & Equal Board of Directors. The ultimate goal at Out & Equal is for LGBT employees to feel safe being who they are at work so that they can give back to their companies and their communities. I’ve met many individuals who have been inspired by Out & Equal’s work. They come to the Workplace Summit and leave with the tools they need to bring equality to their workplaces.
It is especially meaningful to me that my tenure on the Board begins during Black History Month. I feel that serving on the Board is my chance to serve others in the community. It is also an opportunity for me to do more and help lead others in advocating for equality. I am so grateful to be part of Out & Equal and I feel a huge sense of responsibility to contribute to the great work being done every day. I hope to encourage others to initiate and bring about change across the US and internationally.
In sum, we have to acknowledge the progress that’s been made and remember how things were not so long ago. By doing this, we can find direction for our future.