February is the month dedicated to celebrating Black History and excellence. At RIVA, we embrace the spirit of Black History Month, acknowledging the lasting impacts of Black Americans on society. This year, under the theme of “African Americans and the Arts”, we pay homage to the profound influence of Black Americans on the realms of visual and fine arts, music, and beyond. As we honor this rich legacy, we are excited to shine a spotlight on the remarkable individuals within our RIVA team, whose stories and insights illuminate the power of diversity and excellence within our ranks.
Melvin Moore, Senior Project Manager, shines a light on Harry Belafonte as an African American artist deserving greater acknowledgment. Reflecting on his own journey, Melvin emphasizes the profound influence of those who paved the way before him, citing the collective struggles and triumphs of the Black community as instrumental in shaping his life and career path. Melvin finds the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Civil Rights Movement, The Black Arts Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Voting Rights to be the most inspiring cultural movements led by African Americans.
Melvin’s advice to aspiring Black professionals venturing into his field: “Work hard and fail often. Failure allows you to learn about yourself and situations you didn’t know about before. Be bold and ask questions. Most importantly, be true to who you want to become; however, accept the opportunity to change your mind”.
Madison White, Marketing Associate, noted Beyonce as an African American artist whose work deserves greater recognition. She shared “Despite already having a lot of recognition, as a super fan, I believe that Beyonce deserves even greater acknowledgement. She stands as a pillar in the music industry, a fashion icon, a committed philanthropist, and exemplifies a remarkable work ethic. As a celebrity and artist, she truly epitomizes the level of hard work, passion and dedication that’s essential for achieving success!”
Madison advises young black professionals who are looking to get into her field to embrace continuous learning and stay abreast of evolving trends and technologies in the marketing industry. She also encourages the practice of confronting challenges with resilience, viewing setbacks as invaluable learning opportunities to refine their craft and strive for continuous improvement.
Tiffany Vasquez, Program Manager, advocates for increased recognition of Bisa Butler, an African American contemporary artist renowned for her quilted portraits celebrating the richness and diversity of African American culture and history. Inspired by Butler’s artistic vision, Tiffany highlights the importance of acknowledging the beauty and dignity encapsulated in her work.
Tiffany spotlights Queen Latifah as one of the many African American Artists who has influenced her life and career path. She shared “her influence on music, film, and culture with her talent, creativity, and activism makes her a 360 degree of dopeness. She is one of the first female rappers that helped influence my understanding of feminism, self-respect, and unity. As I followed her transition from rap to acting to producing, it influenced me to be more versatile and skilled in the various professional roles I have held, and to always be a trailblazer no matter where I am in life. Love the Queen!”
When offering advice to young Black professionals venturing into her field, Tiffany encourages seeking relevant education, diverse work experiences, embracing challenging projects, and cultivating robust professional networks both within and beyond their organizational realms.
Helen Spann, Sr. Project Manager, recognizes Shaunie Henderson, an African American reality show executive producer and First Lady of the Lighthouse Church of Houston, as someone whose work deserves greater acknowledgement. Helen admires Henderson’s commitment to empowering women and fostering a sense of community is evident in her active involvement and leadership within the church. She shared “Shaunie stands as the epitome of a woman who has navigated life’s challenges with elegance and grace. Her ability to transcend the stereotypical image associated with celebrity life and instead focus on meaningful contributions to the community sets her apart. She is a beacon of inspiration for those facing obstacles, proving that with determination and a giving spirit, one can overcome adversity and leave a positive impact on the world”.
Reflecting on the historical significance of the Harlem Renaissance, Helen underscores its pivotal role in celebrating Black culture across various artistic mediums. Drawing parallels to present day, Helen admires the ongoing legacy of Black artist who challenge and offer fresh perspectives.
Offering guidance to young Black professionals, Helen emphasizes the importance of resilience in the face of adversity, urging individuals to embrace their uniqueness and values. Additionally, she underscores the power of networking, highlighting social media platforms as valuable tools for connecting with other industry professionals.
Together, we recognize the significance of honoring Black history, not only in February but as an integral part of our collective narrative, shaping a more inclusive and vibrant future for all.