When I graduated from college, representatives from private industry swarmed the campus in search of new recruits. Not one Black student was offered an interview.
It’s wonderful to be a woman “of a certain age.” I’ve lived to see history in action, and thankfully, to see so much change for the better. Just the other day, I attended a university business conference for eager graduating students along with representatives of businesses seeking enthusiastic recruits. As my eyes swept across the room, revealing over thirty percent Black students and an equal ratio of Black recruiters, I knew that I was witnessing historical progress.
“I’m a freelance writer from Safety Harbor, and I’m writing an article for Black History Month,” I said by way of introduction, as I approached students and recruiters alike. “Martin had a dream. Fifty years later, what would you say is the biggest change in the private sector workplace?”
One by one, they spoke of progress, of dreams fulfilled:
“It’s easier to actually get a job today,” remarked one young lady, remembering the struggles of her parents.
“Opportunities are higher and business events like this one are showing more diversity,” answered a young man, fully expecting a variety of options.
A young man, sophisticated in the study of ethnic marketing replied, “Employers are realizing that Black employees are viewed as an asset opening markets that were formerly closed,”
“We’re business owners now, not only employees,” said an older gentleman, happily aware that the younger generation can surpass him.
Looking back over more than twenty-five years in the workforce, a woman remarked, “Some of us are CEOs, and visibly so.”
“We are sought after, not just seeking,” a young man responded with pride.
Surely there’s always room for improvement. The glass ceiling at the top only parts for a few. But these young men and women of color are hopeful and appreciative, for they are being valued as they pursue their dreams.
One young man tore at my heart strings. He was about thirty-five, maybe thirty-seven, and working for a well-known bank. Pondering my question, he looked deep into my eyes and answered, “I feel equal … I FEEL equal.
As we approach the end of Black History Month, I am gratified in knowing that Martin’s dream is alive!