Celebrating Black History Month: Honoring the Past and Shaping a Brighter Future

February 21, 2020

At Caterpillar, we understand the importance of history.  Not only does it greatly influence our growth and success, but by embracing our past and valuing our present, we shape a brighter future.

Caterpillar is proud to honor the heritage of African Americans and all employees the world over, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. Each employee has unique perspectives, histories and skills as part of their problem-solving arsenal – and cultural background is part of that uniqueness. From experience and research, we know that diverse teams are stronger, more innovative, and higher performing. 

It’s the power of everyone.

Take a moment to learn more about Black History Month and how Caterpillar’s Employee Resource Groups, including the African American Network, are making a positive difference.

How Black History Week Began

In 1926 historian and writer Dr. Carter G. Woodson designated the second week of February as Black History week to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans in the growth and evolution of the United States. An African American writer and well-known historian, Dr. Woodson helped educate African Americans about the achievements and contributions of their ancestors.

Woodson recognized a need to pay homage to the men and women who were sorely underrepresented in American history books and classrooms. He chose that particular week to honor the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist extraordinaire, Frederick Douglas.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford declared the entire month of February as Black History Month. Ironically, Carter G Woodson’s vision for having a period of time for acknowledging Black history was transitory. He hoped for the day that black history would be recognized and embraced for what it is, an essential part of American history. The month was first celebrated at Kent State University in 1970. 

How Black History Month Is Recognized Today

Today, Black History Month is celebrated not only in educational institutions, but the business community as well. It’s a time to recognize and express appreciation for the historical contributions of African Americans, both individually and as a collective culture. Other countries around the world, including Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom also hold similar celebrations.

Promoting Inclusion at Caterpillar = Accomplishing Great Things Together

Caterpillar’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) were founded to nurture diversity and promote inclusion, and the Caterpillar African American Network (CAAN) was the company’s first ERG, Founded in 2002.

Through excellence, inclusion, innovation and information, together we can accomplish great things.