Leadership requires many talents with one of most important being resiliency. In celebration of Black History Month, we’d like to take a moment to recognize the incredible influence and accomplishments of four inspiring Black leaders who proved resiliency and grace, time and time again.
In 1918, Nelson Mandela was born in the Eastern Cape to the Madiba clan. At a young age, Mandela was inspired to figure out how he could help address the freedom struggle of his people and led a life devoted to equity and democracy.
Mandela faced many struggles, including discrimination, prison, and resistance at many turns. He spent 27 years in jail for fighting against the apartheid system and was finally released in 1990. Despite all of the challenges he faced, he never wavered in his devotion to freedom or answered hate with hate.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically-elected president. He was and continues to be an inspiration to all who have been oppressed.
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.” —Nelson Mandela
Born in 1960, Roy Donahue Peebles (Don) started making an impact at a young age. After working as a congressional page as a teenager, he attended Rutgers University to go into medicine, but later became interested in the real estate appraisal business. Securing clients like the Department of Urban Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and well-known financial institutions after only three years of founding his firm, Peebles was appointed by Mayor Marion Barry to the District of Columbia’s Board of Equalization & Review. After only one year, he became the youngest-ever chairman of the board in D.C.’s history.
Peebles decided to expand his business into real estate development, which included luxury residential and hospitality investments and moving his business to Miami. Because of the company’s and Peeble’s reputation, The Peebles Corporation was selected for a $60 million project to develop historic beach properties. Peebles effectively diversified the real estate development business in Florida.
Peebles, now the founder, chairman, and CEO of New York–based Peebles Corp., is one of the wealthiest African-American real estate developers in the United States. He’s known as a successful entrepreneur, a top-selling author, a passionate advocate for youth mentorship, and for serving on past President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee.
“Our buildings are better, our environments are better when we widen the lens of opportunity for all.” —Don Peebles
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
Born to two public school teachers in 1970, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson graduated from Harvard Law School, cum laude, in 1996. Practicing law until 2013, Justice Brown Jackson was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by President Barack Obama and served until 2021. She was also appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Joe Biden, which was then followed by a nomination as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Becoming the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, Justice Brown Jackson took her oath and seat in June of 2022.
Throughout her career, Justice Brown Jackson has displayed fairness and an exceptional work ethic. Even throughout high-profile and controversial cases, her dedication to the law and upholding it has never wavered.
“You can’t always expect to be the smartest person in the room, but you can promise to be the hardest working.” —Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
Vice President Kamala Harris
Last but certainly not least, we recognize the accomplishments of Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, born to parents from India and Jamaica. Vice President Harris attended Howard University and the Hastings College of Law at the University of California. After graduating from law school, she worked as a deputy district attorney in Oakland, prosecuting cases related to sexual abuse, drug trafficking, and gang violence.
In 2003, Vice President Harris became the District Attorney of San Francisco, which led to her being elected as California’s Attorney General in 2010 and being sworn into the United States Senate in 2017. She became the first Indian American in the Senate and just the second Black woman.
After winning the election in 2020, Vice President Harris became the “first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President.” She is an inspiration to girls and women—especially in the Black and Asian communities—across the globe.
“At every step of the way, I’ve been guided by the words I spoke from the first time I stood in a courtroom: Kamala Harris, for the people.” —Vice President Kamala Harris
These leaders know how to overcome challenges, work with others, and push through the hard times. We celebrate their accomplishments and all they’ve done to make a difference. Thank you for your contributions!