Throughout my life, I’ve been inspired personally, professionally and spiritually by people of all races and backgrounds. This month presents a very special opportunity to highlight some of these influential people, honor Black history and reflect on our responsibility as a company to ensure a bias-free work environment. At Blacklidge, some of our guiding principles and core values were inspired by African American leaders who I admire greatly. They are examples of the type of leader I aspire to be as we continue to build a company that values all of its employees.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am particularly inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not only do I relate to him as a man of faith, I am also moved by his dedication to serve a cause greater than himself. He was a visionary leader who was able to articulate his dream for a just society and motivate others to advocate for that shared vision. MLK, Jr.’s commitment to this cause was one influence that led to incorporating servant leadership as one of our core values. By listening, leading and serving with empathy, we are able to foster the development of everyone we encounter.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” – Muhammad Ali
In addition to being an incredible athlete, I admire Muhammad Ali’s courage and agility. He wasn’t afraid to speak out against injustices he perceived and approached boxing with exceptional professionalism. Ali’s powerful technique brings to mind a core value that we share — agility everywhere. While being nimble and flexible allowed Ali to knock out unsuspecting opponents, at Blacklidge it allows us to quickly adapt to situations and changing market conditions.
While I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. King or Ali, I have had the honor of working alongside hard working African Americans — of all ages — throughout my career. During my early days on paving crews and asphalt plants, I received so much wisdom that I still carry with me today. The adversity they faced taught me to be humble and acknowledge the privilege I hold.
Historical African Americans are not the only leaders that have influenced our values. On our leadership team, we are blessed to have African American leaders who have been invaluable to the success of our company. Dr. John “JFK” Moore, our Chief Operating Officer, has lived experiences that inspire me every day. He is a patriot who survived six overseas combat tours and constantly challenges me to be a better man and leader.
Latasha “Tasha” McCullar, our Vice President of Operations, is another amazing individual who dedicated her life to military service and continues to impress me with her capabilities to satisfy customer requirements and meet organizational goals.
Our audacious goal is to improve all of America’s asphalt pavements by the end of 2030. To achieve this, we must hire the best qualified personnel, regardless of race, and do this in an environment that values diversity and builds camaraderie with each other to service any customer. We cannot afford not to do it.
Black History Month allows us to be intentional about how we recognize our African American colleagues, who help complete our high performing team. This month, as a company, we’re encouraging our employees to read books by African American authors, watch movies or documentaries by African American filmmakers or see which historical figure you share a birthday with. I share my birthday with Bob Marley (February 6)! We’re also hosting a soul food lunch at our Gulfport location, catered by a local Black-owned business.
“None but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley
I am so grateful to all the contributions African Americans have made to our country, our community, our company and our values. I look forward to continuing to celebrate their achievements and working hand-in-hand to make Blacklidge a visionary company that embraces diversity.