Be a Pillar

Recognizing Black History Month

Black History Month has been recognized and celebrated in February for more than 50 years. It has been said that Black history is American history. This month, Be a Pillar reflects on the lived experiences of some of our DPR employees.

Be a Pillar Story for February
In their words

What Does Black History Month Mean to DPR Employees?

Cassandra Dennis

“Black History Month is a time to highlight the resilience of Black Americans throughout U.S. history. It gives all Americans an opportunity to listen to historical stories from our perspective that are not shared or may have been altered in American history books. Throughout the year, my father shares family recipes as he cooks with his grandchildren and our family explores my maternal grandmother’s big bible, which provides names, dates or events of our ancestors throughout history. My mom and aunt connect the dots for us by sharing stories, which provide a prism of our past for us to envision the shoulders we stand upon.”

Cassandra Dennis, DE&I

Sixtus Aliriagwu

“Celebrating Black History Month is paramount because it allows us, as African Americans, to acknowledge and appreciate our African roots in all aspects of society. It is an important time to celebrate the past, the present, and a reminder of the hope and opportunity for the future.

Every month is Black History Month for me and my family. We celebrate Black history by actively participating in events that promote African culture and heritage. One of my family’s favorite traditions is the New Yam Festival, popularly known as ‘Iwa Ji’, ‘Iri Ji’, ‘Ike Ij’ or ‘Orureshi’, depending on dialect, in the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, West Africa. It is an annual cultural festival by Igbo people usually held at the end of the rainy season in early August. In Igboland, New Yam Festival is the celebration of the harvest that brings the communities together. The festival involves eating roasted yam, drinking palm wine, traditional dancing, and masquerades, called ‘Mmanwu’.”

Sixtus Aliriagwu, Environmental Health & Safety

How can you

Recognize and Celebrate Black History Month?


Go to a museum, listen to a podcast, read a book or watch a movie that teaches more about Black history.


Explore volunteer opportunities in your community.


Shop at, recommend or partner with Black owned businesses (shop, restaurant, etc.).

Photos: Bill Michie, Julie Ashlock

Be a Pillar of Global Social Responsibility

The Be a Pillar series is dedicated to sharing the perspectives of DPR employees who are helping to inspire, educate and lead us on a journey.