By Joy Oglesby
What figure in Black History would you most like to meet and why?
W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois was at the center of Black Intellectualism, and he built an entire movement that morphed into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also created a series of papers and writings that is housed at my college alma mater, Clark Atlanta University. Dubois believed that empowerment comes with education and the creation of a growing black middle class. I am in total agreement with that concept.
What do you think about when you think of Black History Month?
I think that this month should be used to educate other races about the strides of Black people. When you think about it, slavery ended in 1865 for most of us. So, within 155 years, we have created billionaires, leaders of industry and a US President. We have accomplished a lot from a people that was enslaved for over 200 years.
Why is it important to seek out and value diverse perspectives in general and in healthcare?
Many illnesses are hereditary and are based on the history of family and geographic proportions. Having knowledge of that and treating people based on their cultural sensitivities is important. Such a large percentage of healing is mental, and when you are able to connect with people on such a personal level, it only enhances the patient’s ability to heal. Furthermore, it solidifies the relationship between the patient and the hospital ensuring the sustainability of the hospital enterprise as a business.
What are you most proud of, professionally or personally?
I am most proud of my adult children, Drew and Dominique. They are hardworking and resilient. They have built good lives for themselves.
Who or what inspires you, professionally or personally?
I am inspired by so many. My father Joe Diggs, Sr. is a retired military US Army veteran. He left home at the age of 17 and joined the Army. He is a Purple Heart recipient who did tours in both Korea and Vietnam. He survived the war only to come back home to a racist community and fight for equality after having fought for his country. He did so and never complained. He has led the way in having his kids understand that nothing beats a good education and hard work. I have never forgotten that lesson.
How has Black History shaped your professional field?
It is the very thing that has shaped my field of philanthropy. I am the product of a Historically Black College that was founded by a wonderful family of white Christians. They felt that if Black folks were given the chance to achieve academically that they could ultimately contribute more to society and thus make America a better nation. They were right. My school has produced nationally recognized leaders in legal, media, sciences, economics and intellectual thought.
What advice would you give someone starting their career in your field?
In philanthropy, you must have good follow-up skills and not be averse to service. You must have a strong knowledge of the non-profit world and be morally centered. I would encourage someone to volunteer their time at a nonprofit and then work their way up by networking with other peers in the industry.
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