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Black History Month: Sharing Stories of Bravery & Perseverance

Throughout the history of the United States, African Americans have been recognized for the sacrifices they’ve made to protect the freedoms that they weren’t always privileged to freely enjoy. This dates back to the Revolutionary War, where Crispus Attucks, a Black man, was said to be the first man to die in the rebellion.

Another example is Abraham Galloway, who served as a spy for the Union army and posed as a slave to gather intelligence and set up spy networks in the South. He would later become the first Black man elected to the North Carolina legislature and served as a state senator. These patriots paved the way for a more recent military hero who served as the as the first African American general in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was born in July 1877 in Washington, D.C. In 1898, he entered the Spanish-American War as a temporary first lieutenant. After the war, he enlisted as a private in 1899 and worked hard to become a commissioned officer in the cavalry just two years later. He went on to serve as part of the Buffalo Soldiers regiment in Mexico and the Philippines. Although he was noted as exemplary in his service, he was not assigned high-profile postings to avoid having him command white officers and troops. Instead, his next assignments were serving as a military science professor at Tuskegee and Wilberforce University and as a National Guard advisor. However, this did not stop him from advancing through the ranks — it only slowed down his timeline of achievements.

Davis went on to earn the ranks of captain in 1915, lieutenant colonel in 1920, and colonel in 1930. In 1938, then-Col. Davis finally received his first independent command, over the 369th Infantry, New York National Guard. After breaking down so many barriers for countless minority men and women, Col. Davis retired on July 31, 1941, and was recalled to active duty the next day by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to be promoted to the rank of brigadier general. Gen. Davis’ patience and perseverance not only served as inspiration to the African American military community at large, but also directly to his family, as his son, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., went on to become a West Point graduate and the second African American general in the U.S. military.

This is not just an example of African Americans’ contributions to the United States military, but also a recognition of the sacrifice, patience, and perseverance of those who fought for freedoms achieved and not yet realized. That said, I’d like to take a moment to say a special thank you to the Black men and women who are serving or have served as part of the armed services of the United States for continuing to pave the way for future generations of minority servicemen and servicewomen.

As we recognize Black History Month at SYKES, we remain dedicated to fostering an environment of equality and celebrate our diverse communities as part of our global commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Written by
Ron Toran
Director, Area HR, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
ronald.toran@sykes.com