Black History Month is a time of reflection and celebration of African American culture and history. Its purpose is to recognize and honor the many contributions of Black Americans to our country and communities. At America’s Car-Mart, we are committed to honoring all cultures, and we strive to create an environment where all associates are respected and valued for their contributions.
In that spirit, three awesome associates shared their thoughts about Black History Month, and what it means to them. But first, let’s meet Bill, Summer, and Bernard, who make a difference every day at Car-Mart, and who encourage and inspire us to work together to build stronger, more connected partnerships and communities:
- Bill Gardner is our General Manager at Car-Mart of Camden, Ark. He started his Car-Mart journey in 2002. Bill is passionate about Car-Mart and is the winner of our prestigious Mission, Vision and Values Award in 2020 and 2019. Learn more about Bill and this award.
- Summer Smith, our Human Resources Business Partner, Corporate Office, joined Car-Mart in 2021. Already, she’s made an impact on Car-Mart. Most recently, she spearheaded a successful Easter basket fundraiser for our Nan Fund that provides financial assistance to Car-Mart associates in need. Learn more about the Nan Fund.
- Bernard Trimuel, General Manager at Car-Mart of West Memphis, Ark., joined Car-Mart in 2017. His best Car-Mart moment was when he first became general manager in Valdosta, Ga., and he and his Car-Mart team provided food to a customer in need during Christmas.
Let’s get started:
What are your thoughts about Black History Month?
Bill – Black History Month is the one time a year where the focus is on the contributions that African Americans have made to society. Accomplishments, regardless of race, creed, or color, should always be acknowledged.
Bernard – Black History Month is an opportunity to talk about our ancestors. It’s a chance to share with our kids what happened when we were kids, and when our parents were kids. It’s a time to reflect on what Martin Luther King accomplished for all of us.
Why is Black History Month important to you?
Bill – Black History Month is a part of my heritage and culture. As an African American, it allows me to understand and realize that the bridges for me to cross over and the price that predecessors have paid for the freedoms that we enjoy now.
Summer – Black History Month is important because it gives people the opportunity to learn about our heritage. It celebrates our achievements, our culture, and our greatness despite the racism and oppression we have endured. It’s significant to me because it highlights my heritage. It honors what African Americans have contributed to this country, and it sheds light on our greatness.
Bernard – It’s important because of what we have overcome as Black Americans. It’s a time to celebrate our heritage and reflect on what we have created and accomplished. But I’ll also celebrate everyone’s heritage because I grew up with all different kinds of people.
Who is an inspirational Black historical figure who inspires you and why?
Summer – Mary Kenner. She holds the record for the most patents awarded to a black woman by the U.S. Government. Mary did not stop at just one idea/invention. She did not give up and was determined even when she faced discrimination with marketing her products.
Bernard – Martin Luther King. He fought for what he believed in. He had a set of goals that he strived for. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and his hard times didn’t stop him.
How can we continue Dr. King’s message of inclusion and equality in our own lives?
Bernard – Be true to yourself. Be kind to people. Treat others like you want to be treated. Help people that need a helping hand. And also, see everyone equally.
Bill – We can create a more inclusive world with education. Just one word, education.
Summer – Be intentional with how we speak and treat others no matter who they are or what they look like. Always choose kindness.
Can you share an experience that influenced you early in your career?
Summer – My first Human Resource position heavily influenced my career. I was fresh out of high school, and I was hired by two black women who saw something in me that I had yet to see in myself. They took me under their wing and taught me how to maneuver in the HR/Corporate world. This is where my love for HR comes from. This experience has helped shape me in so many ways, and that is why I believe mentorship is so important. Showing up and making sure young black professionals are supported and represented is vital in our community.
How will you celebrate Black History Month?
Bill – I will remember those who went before who have sacrificed to allow me to be where I am now.
Summer – Let’s all support and promote Black-owned businesses. I will do the same and educate others about our history.
What else do you want to share about Black History Month?
Bill – In the south, there is still a lot of disregard for the contributions that African Americans have made for this country. We can all go back to the design of the original White House, which was done by an African American architect. African Americans have also made substantial contributions in other areas of society. Plus, we can’t change history, so we have to know what history is and appreciate what we have.
Bernard – I see the best in everyone. I like to mentor a lot of people. I mentor the kids in my neighborhood – talking, playing basketball. I encourage them to be better and strive for a successful future. This is important not just during Black History Month, but all the time. It’s important to help others.
Thanks to Bill, Summer and Bernard for sharing your voices about Black History Month. We appreciate your words of wisdom, and we’re thrilled you’re a part of our Car-Mart family.