Black History Month 2011

  • Nicole Lamb-Hale's Story: Manufacturing in Motor City

    Ed. Note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights the contributions of African Americans who are contributing to the President's vision of winning the future through their work.

    I was born in Detroit, Michigan to a loving mother and father who moved to Detroit from Arkansas upon their matriculation from college in the mid-1960s. At that time Detroit, the international hub of the automotive industry, was a wonderful and vibrant place. My father, Rawleigh Glendale Lamb, was an executive at Chrysler Corporation until his death in 1990, and my mother, Zinnette McRae Lamb, was one of the brightest and best English teachers in the Detroit Public Schools until she retired.  My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and a sense of pride. They also inspired me to believe that anything I set my mind to do was possible. The confidence that my parents instilled in me allowed me to succeed at the University of Michigan and then at Harvard Law School, where I had the opportunity to first get to know a fellow law student by the name of Barack Obama.

    Upon graduation from Harvard Law School, I returned to Detroit.  Many were surprised that I did not begin my law practice in a major market like the majority of my classmates who were from Michigan and beyond. However, I wanted to use my skills to make a difference in Detroit—to be part of its renaissance. Upon my return, I immediately became active in community and political affairs.  I had the privilege as a very young lawyer to serve as the legal advisor to the City of Detroit, during Mayor Dennis Archer’s administration, on its successful Empowerment Zone application. That experience was extremely fulfilling as it immersed me into the Detroit community. I interacted with everyone from corporate chieftains to community organizers and my love for the City and my hopes for its renaissance intensified.  While still employed by my law firm at the time, I also had the honor of serving as Mayor Archer’s chief fundraiser and campaign finance chair.  My love of politics was solidified by that experience.

  • Charles Bolden's Story: "From the Segregated South to Low Earth Orbit"

    Ed. note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series that highlights the contributions of African Americans who are contributing to the President's vision of winning the future though their work.

    It's a long way from the segregated south to low Earth orbit. But I am fortunate to have made the journey and to have had many opportunities to serve my nation in a 34-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps and in many roles at NASA, currently as head of the nation's space program.

    When I was a young man, my service as NASA's first African American Administrator under the Nation's first Black president would have been nearly unthinkable. But through the efforts of many people of all races, our nation has changed. And, thanks to the Space Shuttle Program, and NASA's cross-disciplinary exploration missions, African Americans and many others have had access to space and also to science and technological careers. The shuttle was really instrumental in breaking the color barrier for African Americans in space, and it all happened without a single law being passed.

    Today, African Americans are scientists, engineers, and astronauts. They're developing instruments for spacecraft to peer beyond the edge of our solar system and opening solar arrays on the International Space Station with just a tether holding them to a vehicle moving nearly 17,000 miles per hour. NASA is reinvigorating its focus on research and development to develop technologies that don't exist today. We will send humans farther and faster into space. We'll visit places we've never been, with people and robots, launch science missions to uncover unfathomable secrets of the universe, and make air travel safer and cleaner here on the home front. African Americans have been, and will continue to be, key to all of these efforts.

  • Cecilia Rouse's Story: Driving the Engine of Economic Growth

    Ed. note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series that highlights the contributions of African-Americans who are contributing to the President's vision of winning the future though their work.

    As a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), I work on a wide range of issues, including employment, education, housing, the budget, and the economics of workplace flexibility.  In addition, I represent the CEA at a variety of inter-agency meetings and frequently attend meetings with the President and the Vice President.  The mission of the CEA is to offer the President objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy.  We base our recommendations and analysis on economic research and empirical evidence, using the best data available to support the President in setting the nation's economic policy.

    During the State of the Union, the President laid out his vision for winning the future. As the President’s strategy is aimed squarely at fostering robust and balanced economic growth, I, along with the other economists at the CEA, have been integral to identifying and shaping key policy levers to help achieve these goals. An important part of our work is to help design effective policy that generates economic growth that is broadly shared by all.

    Because the CEA is involved in all aspects of the Administration’s economic policymaking, it is a terrific place for young people to sharpen their analytical skills and to better understand how economics is used in practice. If you’re interested in the CEA, you should study lots of math, statistics/econometrics, and economics. Also, consider applying to come as a short-term intern, or to spend a year after you finish your undergraduate degree, or during your graduate studies.

    Learn more about the Council of Economic Advisers and read Cecilia's full bio here.

    Cecilia Rouse is a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

  • Lisa Jackson's Story: Protecting the Health and the Environment of the American People

    Ed. note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series that highlights the contributions of African-Americans who are helping the President achieve his goal of winning the future.

    I'm a proud native of New Orleans – I was raised in Pontchartrain Park in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward.  My family's home was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and, like many of our neighbors, it was uninhabitable and had to be gutted. Still, on one of my recent trips back I talked to folks about plans to rebuild the house and others as part of a green, sustainable neighborhood. I’m proud to have grown up in and been shaped by such a resilient community.

    After high school at Saint Mary's Dominican in New Orleans, I stayed to go to Tulane University (Roll Wave!)  and then got my master’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton. My dream as a child and throughout school was to become a doctor because I had always wanted to help people when they got sick. But I came to realize that by protecting our environment I was approaching the same problem from a different angle - by making sure people didn’t get sick in the first place.

    As the Administrator of the EPA, I oversee a staff of more than 18,000 employees working across the country with a single mission: to protect human health and the environment. I touch on everything from making sure the air we breathe and the water we drink is free from harmful toxins to assisting with response to environmental disasters.

  • Christopher Smith's Story: Clean Energy & Service

    Ed. note: This is the first blog post in a series that highlights African Americans from throughout the Administration who contribute to the President’s vision of winning the future through their work.

    I’m lucky to have been raised by my parents, Raymond and Sue Ann Smith, who value educatChristopher Smith is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy.ion.  As we celebrate Black History Month I reflect on the fact that I grew up in a period that offered me many more opportunities than my parents had when they were my age. This is one of the things that motivated me to return to public service, and inspires me to work every day to create opportunities for all Americans.

    I grew up in Fort Worth Texas and earned a BS degree in Engineering Management from the United States Military Academy at West Point. I began my career as an officer in the U. S. Army and served tours with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea and the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. After leaving military service, I went on to work for Citibank and JPMorgan in New York City and London. While I was in England I earned an MBA from Cambridge University.

    I spent the next eleven years in the oil industry, first with Texaco, then with Chevron. I spent most of that time leading international projects, including three years living in Bogotá Colombia negotiating offshore and pipeline agreements. The Secretary of Energy appointed me Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in September of 2009.

  • Black History Month: "Shaping the Story of America"

    "During National African American History Month, we recognize the extraordinary achievements of African Americans and their essential role in shaping the story of America. In honor of their courage and contributions, let us resolve to carry forward together the promise of America for our children," President Obama stated in a Proclamation today.

    This month, Americans from around the country will celebrate the creativity, determination, and contributions that African Americans have made to our Nation’s identity and culture. This year’s celebration will be an opportunity not just to look back and recognize the achievements of our community, but also to honor the legacy of those that have come before us while fostering the leaders of tomorrow.

    Throughout the month, we'll highlight African Americans from throughout the Administration on the White House blog. We look forward to sharing the stories of individuals who contribute to the President’s vision of winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competition through their work.