February marks Black History Month (BHM), and Heritage began the tribute by hosting its first “Inspiring Stories From Leaders In Our Community: A Celebration of Black History Month.” With Black Student Union (BSU) president senior Tai Precilla leading a conversation with Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness Feb. 9, students and staff had the opportunity to learn more about a local Black leader.
Precilla started the talk by introducing Commissioner Holness’ story. As a Jamaican immigrant who migrated to the U.S. at 17, Commissioner Holness graduated from Plantation High School and attended Broward College. From there, he discovered a passion for helping those in his community and ran for office.
Despite facing challenges like losing two elections, Commissioner Holness earned the role of Mayor of Broward County and currently acts as Commissioner of District 9.
“All of us face obstacles, regardless of race. It’s our will power that brings us to victory, even after so much defeat,” Commissioner Holness said. “You need a strong mindset to overcome your challenges. Once you’re prepared, you’ll get lucky.”
In addition to politics, Commissioner Holness, father of sophomore Daylan Holness, has worked as a business executive, real estate agent, mortgage broker and activist for local civic organizations, such as the NAACP and Haitian American Leadership Organization.
“My dad inspires me everyday to be someone greater and more successful than he is today. It’s a hard goal to set, but I know I can do it and, with him in my corner, I know I will do it,” Daylan said. “He also taught me to be appreciative and grateful for everything, and has taught me to be appreciative and grateful for everything.”
Throughout the talk, Commissioner Holness highlighted the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity, and explained some of the challenges that he faced as a Jamaican immigrant transitioning from living in a country where he was a part of the racial majority to one where racial injustices occurred frequently.
“Having conversations like the one we had tonight helps make the American Heritage community aware of what is happening in the minority communities that surround them. Commissioner Holness shed light on many initiatives that I’m not sure everyone was aware of,” Precilla said. “These also help get other conversations started, and help people become more of an active participant in their communities.”
Commissioner Holness also offered advice to those seeking to pursue a successful career.
“No matter who you are, where you are, you can lead. It is not something handed to you, but something you earn,” he said. “Look for where there is need, and begin there.”
Continuing the series, the next talk Feb. 23 will feature Air Force Colonel Rudolph Moise. To sign up for the 7 p.m. event, click here.