CICU President Lola W. Brabham Speaks at NYS Department of Civil Service Black History Month Celebration

News Date: 2/23/2023

CICU President Lola W. Brabham spoke at the New York State Department of Civil Service's Black History Month Celebration on February 22, 2023. The event was sponsored by the DCS Office of Diversity and Inclusion Management. 

President Brabham's full remarks are below. 


Good morning, I am delighted to be here today. And it is wonderful to see so many familiar faces. Thank you to Commissioner Hogues and Deputy Commissioner Michael Washington for inviting me to bring remarks in recognition of Black History Month.

As we know, the theme for Black History Month 2023 is Black Resistance, it recognizes and honors the resistance of historic and ongoing oppression of Black Americans.

Drawing from U.S. history, we know that both the Emancipation Proclamation and Declaration of Independence contain bold assertions about natural rights, human equality, and equal dignity under the law. These principles are intended to protect the liberties of all citizens to create a just society.

But we remember well, that in 1963 Dr. King challenged the equality principle of the Declaration of Independence, and referred to it as a “promissory note”, because it was -and continues to be - unfulfilled for Black Americans.

This is the unsettling truth - of why the theme Black Resistance is so appropriate.

In preparation for today, I thought about the meaning of Black Resistance – and how it shows up in my life. And the word that kept coming to mind was Resiliency.

Once I started thinking about the concept of resiliency, I could not let it go, because it is the Resiliency of Black Americans (and our allies) that fuels the fight for the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all.

It is the Resiliency of Black people that fortifies us - to nurture and protect Black lives and the autonomy of our physical and intellectual bodies.

Resilience is defined as the capacity to withstand or to recover from difficulties.

But Black Resilience is something more. Its resilience in a population in which “overcoming” and “bouncing back” from adversities – ranging from micro-aggression to legally ordained, chronic, and horrific oppression – has been a requirement for survival.

Many, if not most, of the people in this room have dedicated themselves to public service. Therefore, it is our calling to deliver on the promissory note of human equality, and to work every day to create a more fair and inclusive democracy, even in the smallest of actions and gestures.

As the Human Resource arm of the State of New York, the Department of Civil Service plays a pivotal role in the ongoing struggle for equity and inclusion. It’s mission to “build tomorrow's workforce today by promoting a diverse, inclusive, and talented workforce” provides a roadmap for the state and the nation for becoming a more fair and equitable society.

Leading that charge for the Department, is the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Management. I want to commend Deputy Commissioner Michael Washington and Director Nicole Keith for their dedication and foresight.

While Black History Month is celebrated in February, it does not mean that we forget about it come March 1st. Use this month to honor the legacies of our most prophetic leaders like Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth.

But there is still work to be done, toward fulfilling the promise of the American dream of a fair, just, and equitable society regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It is both our right and our obligation.

So let us use this month to recommit ourselves to the fight for racial and social justice - to ensure that the sacrifices made by generations before us were not in vain.

And remember that Black History is American History.