Black History Month: Amplifying Black Voices Within Our Community

Posted by Enlivant support center on February 15, 2022

February is Black History Month, and this year’s national theme is close to our hearts: Black Health and Wellness, designed to acknowledge Black scholars and medical practitioners who have influenced the healthcare system.

It’s critical that we honor the contributions of Black leaders in healthcare - and we're lucky to have so many on our teams right here at Enlivant, who care for our residents and help them thrive every day!

Four employees within our Enlivant community are sharing their thoughts on inclusion, Black history, and which songs by Black artists empower them to renew and recharge. Read on to meet some of our team and learn more about their experiences......and listen to their pumped-up playlist!

Derrick James – Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for the Blue Ridge Region

As a Regional Director of Sales & Marketing in the Blue Ridge region, Derrick has turned Blue Ridge into a top performing region by motivating his teams. It’s no surprise he’s got presence: at 6’5”, he commands the room and is frequently ducking under doorways when visiting the communities in his region!

What moment in Black history inspires you?

There are so many inspirational Black history moments to choose from but one person that has made a profound impact on me is Nelson Mandela. He spent his life fighting apartheid in South Africa, then was imprisoned for over 20 years. For him to endure all of that and then become the President of the same country that wrongfully imprisoned him is truly an inspiration. His story embodies the determined spirit of not only Black people here in America but the spirit of Black people all over the world.

What does inclusion mean to you?

The definition of inclusion is having equal access to opportunities and resources. 

 Derrick and his family.

To me personally it simply means that we all have an equal playing field with the space to succeed or fail without the preconceived notion that your race, gender, or appearance have any effect at all.

What song(s) reminds you to recharge?

One of the most memorable songs of our time is “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.  This song quickly became the anthem for the Civil Rights movement and continues to be an inspiration in the Black community. At that time, Sam had every reason to be pessimistic about the future of Blacks in America; however, this song embodies a hopeful tone and vision for the Black community. For me personally this song inspires me to believe no matter what I am going through in my life, things can and will get better. It keeps me focused and reminds me to recharge and be ready for what tomorrow brings.

Hear our Black History Month soundtrack on Spotify!

Michelle Coleman – Senior Manager of Accounting Operations at the Enlivant Support Center

Michelle currently oversees the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable teams that support all of the communities at Enlivant. She was born on 3/27 at 7:23 p.m., and in her time outside of work, she’s passionate about rehabbing mid-century modern homes.

 Michelle and her two sons.

What moment in Black history inspires you?

There are many moments in Black history that inspire me. The March on Washington, the fight for freedom and jobs, teaches me that every voice counts and there is power in numbers. The release of Nelson Mandela and end of South African apartheid teaches me how one man’s courage was a fight for compassion and human dignity for a nation and mankind.  However, on November 4, 2008, when I witnessed a man of color elected as the 44th President of the United States, I felt a sense of hope and optimism for brighter days to come, particularly for my young black sons.

What does inclusion mean to you? 

For me, inclusion means facilitating a culture of acceptance, consideration, and opportunity without bias. It’s a safe space where individuals are valued and encouraged to create, collaborate, and engage openly without baggage and prejudice.

What song(s) reminds you to recharge? 

I’m not sure what Chaka or Whitney intended, but “I’m Every Woman” is my go-to when I need to reflect and recharge. The song reminds me to look within to self (rather than outward) for strength and validation.

Deja Fumbanks – Medication Aide at Floyd Place

Deja has been making an impact as a Medication Aide at Floyd Place. Deja likes to experience different foreign cuisines because of her summers in Puerto Rico visiting her grandmother. In her spare time, she loves drawing and learning about sea creatures, especially octopuses and jellyfish!

What moment in Black history inspires you?

Rosa Parks not only for standing up for Black people but also for standing up for herself. 

What does inclusion mean to you?

Making everyone feel the love & affection they deserve. Making everyone feel like this is their safe place. Making sure everyone feels like they belong to something great. Like Floyd Place, we’re a family.

What song(s) reminds you to recharge?

Outkast: Hey Ya!; Pastor Mike: I Got It; Nat King Cole: L-O-V-E; The Temptations: Cloud ; Tupac: How Do U Want It; Ying Yang Twins: What’s Happenin!; Ruff Ryders’ Anthem: DMX

Rhonda Meekins – Regional Director of Operations for the Georgia Region

Rhonda began her career with Enlivant as an Executive Director eight years ago and is currently the Regional Director of Operations in the Georgia region. She loves working with her teams and colleagues to help them grow as leaders and empower them to be the best they can be.

 Rhonda (top center) with her mother & sisters.

What moment in Black history inspires you?

The formation of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in 1908 was a pivotal moment in Black History. The first Black sorority had its humble beginnings as the vision of nine Black college students on the campus of Howard University who were unable to join existing sororities due to their race and has flourished into a globally-impactful organization of nearly 300,000 college-trained members. 

Its commitment to servant leadership and the strong bonds of lifetime sisterhood make me proud that I have been an active member for over 38 years. I have a network of strong, successful, bright, and professional women all across the country and the support I receive is indescribable. Vice President Kamala Harris is also a notable member of this illustrious sorority.

What does inclusion mean to you? 

Diversity is about who is in the room… all the different looks and perspectives. Inclusion is once you get access to the room, having a voice. It is not enough to just be in the room. You are allowed to speak freely and to be your true authentic self. When you raise your voice is it given full and fair consideration. Inclusion is ultimately about understanding and respect.

The national theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness. What song reminds you to recharge? 

The Baylor Project: Only Believe. This songs draws me to my solid foundation of faith. I have to reference the lyrics... "When the road gets too long and the burdens are strong... just be still, you'll find your peace... only believe."