We’ve all seen messages from across the globe expressing grief and anguish over racial injustice against the Black community. Recent travesties of justice underscore the long history of violence and racism Black people in America still face. It’s time for change and AT&T is committed to being a part of the change.
AT&T was one of the first companies to endorse the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, and for decades our advocacy has included financial support and engagement with civil rights groups. And while we have led in many areas to promote equality, diversity and inclusion, we know there is much more work to do. Failure to address this reality is not an option. Engaging for change is a moral and business imperative—not just for AT&T, but for all companies, and for all communities and citizens.
This work must be done across our society and culture. Stories of injustice must be seen and captured by journalists and citizens alike. Institutions must step up and influence public policy nationally. And you and I, in our state and in our cities, must empower community initiatives. Our actions must be connected.
To take our empowerment in the city a step further, we have expanded our investments by teaming up with Boys and Girls Club-Detroit and Jefferson East, Inc. Our collaborations with these Detroit institutions will further strengthen the economic empowerment these organizations are already building in the city.
We are honored to work with East Jefferson, Inc. to build upon their inclusive approach that helps counter the challenges in low-income communities, where residents often feel that they don’t fit in their neighborhoods. AT&T will proudly be funding that organization’s East Jefferson Development Program, focusing on ensuring that economic growth in Detroit is inclusive, benefiting residents on the troubled lower eastside of the city, where more than 20 percent of residents earn less than $10,000 per year. The program will provide workforce development and mentoring, new job opportunities, and training to help minority contractors to expand and hire area residents. Efforts like this will lead to long-term change in the community.
Additionally, AT&T will help the Boys and Girls Club expand its career exploration programming with the opening of its first Industry Club. This program will offer young Detroiters interested in retail or fashion merchandising with a unique summer and after-school experience, right in the heart of Detroit at the Detroit is the New Black store on Woodward. This initiative will result in the employment of up to 200 Detroit youth each year, helping them gain experience and learn about the various aspects of the retail business development cycle.
We hope these new collaborations will build on our Believes Detroit efforts to make a positive impact in Detroit. Of course, we know there is much more that must be addressed when it comes to racial inequities across every facet of society. We will continue to work diligently in our communities to address education, workforce and other needs of underserved Black communities. I hope other organizations step up, speak up and make change for racial justice, because time is long overdue. Black lives matter and we have an obligation to engage on this fundamental issue of equality and fairness.
While it is an honor and a privilege to serve as the President of AT&T Michigan, as a Black man, it is also my obligation to do something with this role. That’s why I’m extremely proud of the work we have done in the city of Detroit through our employee-led AT&T Believes initiative in Detroit. Believe Detroit is AT&T Michigan’s commitment to improving outcomes for Detroiters, by contributing our time, talent and treasures to the city where we live, work and raise our families. This endeavor is about creating an everlasting impact for the people of Detroit and I believe it is making a difference. I’m ready to get to work and hope you’ll join me.
By David Lewis, President of AT&T Michigan
For the Michigan Chronicle