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February is Black History Month. Over the course of the month, Cadent has dedicated time to celebrating the accomplishments, stories, and legacies of those in the Black community. It is important to remember the efforts, events, and people that combated inequality and promoted success among Black Americans. This February also marks the first full year of Cadent’s Black employee resource group, the Black Employee Network (BEN)! 

DiShawn Vance (left) and Khadijah Freeman (right) at the AAMP

Recently, members of the BEN team visited the African American Museum in Philadelphia to understand how it connects black history with the community. Below, Khadijah Freeman, Senior Support Analyst, and DiShawn Vance, Talent Acquisition Specialist share their reflection on the group’s experience at the museum. 

Khadijah: I had a great day at the AAMP. The first thing that stood out to me was simply how much I didn’t know. Philadelphia has a rich history – one that goes far beyond William Penn, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell. While America was being formed in the 18th century, Philadelphia was the center of the abolitionist movement and had the largest free Black population.  

It was powerful to see the virtual storytelling, as it evoked the deep emotion and excitement that you can’t always get from reading a page in a book. 

We finished our visit by viewing the contemporary art display. I could look at this particular drawing (below) all day.  

Charles Gaines’ “Falling Leaves,” 1979

Overall, it was a fantastic experience, and I encourage all ‘Colors and Classes’ to visit. 

DiShawn: My time in the museum ended up being more than just learning about some of the hardships Black people have endured – it was about resilience and inspiration.   

I got to know about people like James Forten, an African American abolitionist and wealthy businessman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born free in the city and became a sailmaker after the American Revolutionary War. It was said that the people of Philadelphia didn’t like him because he hired individuals of all races to work in his shop. He cared nothing about skin color, but instead focused on a person’s integrity and work ethic.    

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield was an American singer considered the best-known Black concert artist of her time. She was freed but went back to work for her mistress (slave owner’s wife) because it was the only life she’d known, but Elizabeth continued to entertain others through song. She went on to perform in front of large crowds. However, in some spaces, she’d tell her loved ones not to attend because they would be called slurs.    

The Black History theme for 2023 is Resilience, and during the tour, I saw that throughout history, many people looked at Black people for what they could do for them rather than who they were. People in our community suffered from unfortunate situations yet despite these obstacles, they still chose to sing, paint, and educate themselves. They stayed resilient and built a culture around being themselves, continuing to look for something better for themselves and their families.    

The museum shows a time-lapse of how we’ve evolved from belonging to someone to living for ourselves. The people of the Black community invented machines, technology, and hygiene products, as well as beautiful works of art, music, and more. It’s an inspiration to see how we stay humble and live in our truth. I learned that sometimes, you must go through painful situations to pave a way for those that come after you. 

Learn more about life at Cadent.