News: Black History luncheon highlights contributions
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Defense Contract Management Agency Boeing Huntington Beach employees recently celebrated Black History Month with a luncheon program featuring a guest speaker, African-American art exhibit, cultural and historical food, jazz music and a presentation of 50 historically-significant African-Americans.
The event was hosted by the contracting group, led by Bridget R. Guillory, contracts director. “This successful event celebrated the diversity of the African-American culture and highlighted the importance of past and current accomplishments.”
The program began with Marie D. Smith, from a local aerospace company, giving a presentation of her path to becoming the first African-American woman executive to hold her position at the company. She noted mentorship as a key to her success, in addition to having personal integrity, honesty, going beyond what is asked, pursuing higher education where possible, and the importance of knowing “you are responsible for your career and no one else.”
Randy Feit, contract management office deputy commander, presented Smith with a commander’s coin on behalf of Air Force Col. Samuel Harbin. “Marie could not have been more right regarding the keys to success and career advancement,” said Feit. “Managing your career is like climbing a ladder, not riding an escalator or elevator; you have to pull yourself up to the next level and then the next to achieve your career aspirations. We are honored to have her share her story and experiences.”
Following Smith’s presentation, employees enjoyed planned activities. A highlight was the African-American art exhibit which was provided by Abraham Ortega, administrative contracting officer, which included sculptures, artifacts, and paintings.
A historical African-American dish, Hoppin’ John, was featured as the main entrée. The dish was prepared by Judy Hudson, Keystone contract administrator, and Rossalyn Harris, management analyst. Attendees were given a short presentation on the origins of the dish with excerpts highlighted from a 2011 Washington Post article entitled, “Hoppin John, a New Year’s tradition born from slavery.”
Hoppin’ John is a famous Southern dish of black-eyed peas traditionally served on New Year’s Day. The entrée was served with hot rice, sweet corn bread, honey butter and a peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Jazz music played in the background during the event featuring famous Afircan-American artists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Dina Washington, Nina Simone and more. Jazz is a unique and widely popular genre of music African-Americans created at the turn of the 19th century in New Orleans.
“The guest speaker, Ms. Smith, plus the incredible home-made food, art exhibit, and jazz music were all a hit,” said Guillory. “Everyone appreciated all the elements, especially the commonality amongst our diverse work force at DCMA Boeing Huntington Beach."