February marks the celebration of Black History Month, when we salute the rich Black history and culture that is woven into the fabric of our nation. As we honor this expansive and growing history, I reflect on the importance of the Great Migration of the early 20th century, which brought millions of Black people from the rural South to cities across the North, Midwest, and West, where they created communities in which to not only survive, but also to thrive.
Today, I live in one of those communities, on the South Side of Chicago, not far from the DuSable Museum of African American History, the country’s first independent museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, and study of the history, culture, and achievements of Africans and Americans of African descent. Among the 13,000 sculptures, paintings, and artifacts pertaining to the African American experience, visitors will find stories of resilience, the ingenuity of the human spirit, and the indisputable strength of people’s character in the face of adversity.
At United, we believe there is more that unites than divides us. If there is one thing we’ve learned while going through the most significant crisis in the history of commercial aviation, it’s this: We are stronger when we work together. We are taking action to make a real impact in the communities where we live, work, and serve. Along with our generous MileagePlus members, we raised and donated 3.5 million miles to social and racial justice nonprofits through our 2020 Giving Tuesday campaign.
We launched a Black Lives Matter United-branded lapel pin, with over $30,000 worth of proceeds benefiting the Chicago youth program and our partner “My Block, My Hood, My City,” and we began our REAL Conversation series that kicked off with a company-wide dialogue on race.
This is just the beginning. As we take time to reflect this month on the robust accomplishments of the Black community, we are also reminded of how far our country still needs to go. Over the last several months, we’ve been reminded in many ways that racism and inequity continue to plague our society. We know we have a lot of work to do, and in order for us to be the greatest airline in aviation history, we must drive initiatives that work toward justice for all those we serve.
Our purpose, “Connecting people. Uniting the world.,” is fueled by our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity because it is the cornerstone of our culture. This type of approach is good for our employees, our customers, and our business. Despite a pandemic, we continue to safely bring people together all over the world, forging new connections, and fostering deeper respect across continents and cultures.
Black History Month provides us with an opportunity to examine the past in order to help direct our country toward a more equitable future. In order to make every one of our employees and customers feel heard and respected, United is committed to a culture of continuous learning at every level of our organization. We promise to maintain and support this work today, this month, and in the future to ensure a more united tomorrow. We look forward to welcoming you back on board soon.
Brett J. Hart
President, United Airlines