Mighty Blog

Children’s Minnesota employees share the significance and meaning of Black History Month

By: Sandi Richmond

The month of February marks Black History Month, a time to celebrate the tremendous milestones and contributions black Americans have made throughout history, and continue to make today.

Children’s Minnesota employees talk Black History Month

Robin Pitts, manager, executive offices

“Black history and excellence is so rich, yet so many stories that have been shared, and taught about our history left me with so many question marks as a child because what I read in my school books didn’t align with the experiences that my great-grandparents, and other elders lived, and shared with me, nor what I felt in my heart. I yearned to know more so I studied, read, interviewed elders and asked questions. As a parent, I teach my children more about our deep history beyond the lessons and tales shared in school.

By celebrating and uplifting the voices and contributions of black people, we are keeping our history, and our pride alive.”

Robin Pitts, manager, executive offices

James Burroughs, vice president, chief equity and inclusion officer

“Black History Month 2021 will not be a traditional Black history Month celebration,” said Burroughs in his personal Black History Month blog: “Black History Month 2021 – Don’t Just Celebrate, Do Something!” In this blog, he offers a new way to celebrate Black History Month this year.

Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO

“Knowing our past is key to understanding our present and planning our future. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the past is often imperfect, and this colors our beliefs and actions here and now. We must understand how the story has been distorted, and correct those distortions, if we hope to improve that knowledge of the past. February isn’t about being “woke” or “politically correct;” it is a chance to correct the historical record.”

Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO
Hamdi Sahal, senior administrative assistant for clinical ethics department

Hamdi Sahal, senior administrative assistant, clinical ethics department

“Africans and African Americans have endured tremendous trauma. It’s imperative that we recognize the achievements and struggles of African Americans in the past and present. We need to celebrate and remember those who sacrificed so much for us to have freedom. In order for us to acknowledge, accept and prevent history from repeating itself, we need to educate, educate, educate — especially the younger generation.”

Zaundra Smith, RN, St. Paul neuroscience unit

“Black History Month should be celebrated all year-round. The month of February gives us, as well as others, the opportunity to not only highlight but to learn about the richness and beauty of the African American culture and people.”

Zaundra Smith, RN, St. Paul neuroscience unit

Employees representing Children’s Minnesota in a remarkable way

James Burroughs

James Burroughs is a focused advocate with an equity lens, fearless leader in the community and is an all-around exponent for kids.

Congratulations to James for his new title as vice president, chief equity and inclusion officer at Children’s Minnesota! We look forward to the next level of advancing the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for the organization.

Adriene Thornton, RN, infection preventionist at Children’s Minnesota, is a leader in COVID-19 awareness for people of color, advocate to the community by representing Children’s Minnesota as a panelist on the African American Leadership bi-weekly forum.

Adriene was also part of the AstraZeneca vaccine trials. Her hope? “Do the right thing…to protect myself, my family and my community, so for me it was not a question of whether I was going to do it, it was when,” said Adriene when asked about the trials in an interview with WCCO

Adriene Thornton, RN, infection preventionist at Children’s Minnesota

Thank you both for your commitment to health, education and representation! Thank you for being Black History!