OCC Colleagues Celebrate Black History Month

March 13, 2024

Throughout February, OCC’s Employee Network Group, Black Organization for Leadership and Development (BOLD), proudly celebrated Black History Month by hosting events and starting conversations about milestones in Black history that enacted change in the lives of all Americans. 

This year BOLD celebrated the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, a groundbreaking 1954 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional. BOLD created a presentation detailing the complex history of this landmark decision and how it ignited a movement to close the opportunity gap, and some members shared how the ruling personally impacted their families. 

“When my parents were in school, blacks and whites were still very segregated geographically. Going into college, they saw how the majority of their white counterparts were much more prepared for the curriculum even though they’d taken advanced courses. Had it not been for the Supreme Court’s decision, they would not have had the opportunity to sit in the same classes as students who didn’t look like them. There’s still a long way to go to provide all students an equal and equitable education, but I have hope we’re heading in the right direction.” 

Nealean Washington
Member of the BOLD Initiative Leadership Committee

“My grandparents were a part of the Great Migration. My maternal grandmother moved from Alabama to California when she was 16, which created opportunities for her eight children that she did not have. Her children were part of California’s desegregation program during the ’60s and ’70s. Almost all of them finished high school and landed successful careers in fields like medicine, transportation and government. My grandmother poured her love of education into me. Her mantra is, ‘Education is the key to a successful future.’ With the plethora of laws and changes to the California public education system, I was afforded educational opportunities as early as age three. My public education exposed me to the University of California pipeline program in junior high school, fortifying the opportunity for me to become the first person to attend and graduate from college in my family; this set a precedent for my cousins and siblings that followed. If it were not for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, I know my family would have taken a different path – one that may not have provided me with multiple paths of opportunity. And among those paths, there may not have been one that lead me to OCC.”

Keisha Xicotencatl
BOLD Co-Chair

Colleagues came together during a fireside chat with Joseph Lewis, Co-head of Corporate Hedging and FX Solutions at Jefferies LLC and OCC Board Member. Joseph shared his unique background and how it shaped his career journey, as well as insights gained during his 20+ year career on how important it is to close the opportunity gap and foster workplace diversity. He also stressed that equitable access to education from a young age is crucial for future success. 

Colleagues came together again the following week for a BOLD panel discussion titled “Leveling Up – Locating Opportunities to Grow in Your Career.” The lively panel of OCC leaders discussed their career journeys, how to develop professionally and how to manage your career for the greatest chance of success. 

Although Black History Month has ended, OCC and our colleagues are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), which is built into our #WeAreOCC value. OCC strives to be a workplace where every individual is welcomed, respected, and embraced with kindness. Colleagues foster inclusivity through our Employee Network Groups, DEI Council, and cultural events that bring a vibrant spirit to our workplace. We work to actively expand our talent pipeline to cultivate a diverse and talented workforce. We give back to our communities, forging powerful relationships with local organizations that support marginalized and disinvested communities to promote access to quality education and employment opportunities. Anchoring on our values, we believe in doing what is right and generating greater impact on the communities where we live and work. 

Your acceptance of all cookies will permit robust site functionality. If you don't allow cookies, some features and functionality of OCC's site may not operate as expected. If you do not choose either cookie setting for our site, or if you close this window, this message will continue to display on each page you visit. Cookie settings can be controlled in your Internet browser to automatically reject some forms of cookies. For more details on cookies this site uses, see our OCC Site Cookies page. In addition to using cookies, we retain other information, including your Internet Protocol (IP) address, for the purposes listed in the Privacy Policy. Do not accept analytic cookies Accept analytic cookies