Celebrating those making Black History today to shape tomorrow

Bill Soards
February 26, 2021
Community Impact

Celebrating those making Black History today to shape tomorrow

This past year has been challenging, to say the least. But as the saying goes, with challenges come opportunities.

In addition to the pandemic, we’ve seen a renewed focus on what being Black in America means today. With Black History Month upon us, this is a great opportunity to educate ourselves about what’s important to our friends, family and co-workers in the Black community, and the need to act whenever we witness injustice.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the comments below from two of our AT&T Indiana employees. They share what Black History Month means to them in 2021. In addition, you’ll also find some of the actions our company is taking to ensure that Black students, businesses and creators are able to build on their valuable contributions to our state and country.

Thank you, and I hope you and yours remain safe and healthy.

Bill Soards

AT&T Indiana’s NETwork Chapter, Educating Employees Throughout the Year

Kimberly Grays, chair,
The NETwork’s Indiana chapter

Kimberly Grays is President of AT&T Indiana’s chapter of The NETwork Black Integrated Communications Professionals, an employee resource group that promotes the Black experience at AT&T and pursues inclusive opportunities to unite all who share our core values.

Throughout the year, The NETwork facilitates personal and professional growth and development for its members. For example, this month the Indiana chapter hosted “A Tribute to Uncle Nearest,” a virtual bourbon-tasting event that raised funds for scholarships. The event featured an Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey ambassador who walked participants through the history of Uncle Nearest, (a.k.a. Nathan Green), an ex-slave who is cited as the first Black distiller.

In addition, this February The NETwork organized a “LunchTime Lesson” for its members, where Wabash College’s Steven Jones led a discussion about why family is so critical. Jones, an Indianapolis native who is the college’s Dean for Professional Development and Director of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, encouraged The NETwork members to “jump in and stay in,” when it comes to mentoring or working with children and teens, because you can “never underestimate your presence in the life of a young person.”

Below, Grays talks about why it is important for her to
celebrate Black history:

‘Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.’ This quote, by Carter G. Woodson (father of Black History Month), is the pinnacle of why we celebrate Black history today. Honoring the achievements of African Americans is a daily inspiration. I grew up listening to the stories of how my parents and grandparents fought against injustice and de jure segregation while living in the South. Their courageous stories, along with those of my father marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were inspiring. Their stories taught me to be thankful and appreciative of their efforts. Their stories taught me the importance of working hard; they taught me how to dream. Most importantly they gave me the strength to continue their legacy. Simply put, celebrating Black history is important to me because it is an avenue for paying homage to all those who contributed and made sacrifices for the betterment of our society. It is my way of saying, “thank you!’”

Kimberly Mays, treasurer,
The NETwork’s Indiana chapter

Kimberly Mays, The NETwork’s Treasurer, also shares her thoughts about Black History Month, following a turbulent 2020:

“In 2021, Black History Month means truth and tradition. We live in an age of misinformation, so now it is more important than ever to recognize all of the sacrifices in addition to all of the contributions made by our ancestors. And though Black history is only celebrated one month a year, we must educate our youth with the truth and traditions of our ancestors year-round. For, as stated by Susan L. Taylor, ‘Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.’

The NETwork Indiana chapter currently has over 100 active and retired members. To learn more, please send an email to [email protected].

AT&T’s HBCU Future Leaders Program Creates Pathways to Success in Tech and Entertainment for Black Youth

Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Dubois, Kamala Harris. These historic figures and more have something in common – they all graduated from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

It has been almost 200 years since the first HBCU was established and over this long history, a legacy of greatness and achievement has laid the foundation for generations to come. While these names will ring throughout history as vanguards for the Black community, we are reminded – now more than ever – of how valuable access to education and economic opportunity is for the future of our world.

We recently announced the launch of AT&T University’s HBCU Future Leaders Program, a multi-year mentoring and workforce readiness initiative for HBCU students. Beginning in March, interns from the AT&T EDGE internship and other student development programs will be selected to participate in a workforce readiness experience that will provide access to senior leaders, experiential learning, leadership skills development, and experts in technology and innovation. This exposure will help them to achieve long-term career success and make an impact in their communities.

Read more HERE.

AT&T “Dream in Black” Honors Iconic Black Future Makers and Everyday Heroes, including an AT&T Ad Voiced by LeBron James and Featuring Frontline Workers from Chicago


This Black History Month, AT&T Dream in Black presents the return of Black Future Makers, a future-forward celebration of inspirational people in the culture. The campaign was announced via a commercial celebrating frontline workers and everyday heroes from Chicago in a spot voiced by NBA superstar, philanthropist and entrepreneur LeBron James. James is also one of this year’s Black Future Maker honorees.

“How do we revere the doers and the dreamers, thank the makers, shapers and creators of not just today, but tomorrow?” James asks at the beginning of the commercial. Over his baritone voice, the viewer sees a montage of moving images of the everyday heroes.

A doctor, a dancer, a veteran, a teen activist, a firefighter, and an AT&T essential worker are among the inspirational figures highlighted in the Black Future Makers spot.

Learn more HERE.

AT&T Exceeds $3 Billion Spending Commitment for Black-Owned Businesses

We delivered on our commitment to invest in Black-owned businesses and contribute to the economic impact in communities across the United States. AT&T spent $3.1 billion with Black-owned suppliers, surpassing a $3 billion two-year commitment to drive diversity and inclusion across our business and communities where we live and work.

It was our largest commitment made with Black-owned suppliers since we launched our Supplier Diversity efforts in 1968 as a response to the civil unrest and economic disparities many diverse businesses were encountering.

Fast forward to 2021. We have one of the largest supplier diversity programs in corporate America. Never has diversity in our supply chain been more important than now. We surpassed our commitment to spend $3 billion by year-end 2020. To reach our commitment, we added several new Black suppliers while increasing spend with others. Black suppliers support AT&T across different lines of business including legal, professional services, warehousing, logistics, advertising and marketing services, fuel, construction and engineering, property management, and fiber installation.

Read more HERE.