What Black History Month means to me

February is Black History Month, dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the achievements and contributions by American Americans who have inspired our nation. In honor of Black History Month, Port of Tacoma and The Northwest Seaport Alliance employees share why this month matters to them.


LaTonja Brown

Market and Research Analyst | The Northwest Seaport Alliance

“When I was growing up, the main thing I learned about Black History was slavery, so it’s been a joy to see the contributions of some of the ‘Hidden Figures’ come to light. I have always been struck by the strength of my ancestors. Men and women who survived the Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow (and, as a daughter of the South, the KKK), labor market discrimination during the migration north, the Civil Rights Movement and the list goes on and on. When I think about Black History—especially in light of the last year and the current climate, I think about strength and power to endure, survive, and thrive.”

Vincent Brown, Ph.D., PMI-ACP

Senior Project Manager | IT

“Black History Month is a reminder that despite our outward differences, at the core of our beings, we all want what is best for ourselves, our families, and our loved ones. It is also a reminder that human nature is that such that we, no matter what our outward differences are, will all struggle until we are able to achieve what is best for ourselves, our families, and our loved ones.”

Elly Bulega

Project Manager I | Engineering

“Black History Month to me means sacredness. We should never get tired of doing what is right, for at the proper time, we reap a harvest if we do not give up. Change, though slow sometimes, always inclines toward protecting what is sacred.”

Cliff Butler

Journey Level | Equipment Maintenance

“Black History Month makes me think of a famous quote by President Barack Obama: Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Louis Cooper

Senior Director | Security and Corporate Social Responsibility

“Black History reminds us of the real history of this nation, which is not in the history books. It reminds me of the heritage my mother, father, uncles, aunts, grandmother, grandfathers, and ancestors, whose spirits I carry every day of my life through the struggle of Black Americans in this country. Their spirits are with me every day of my life and I must honor them. Black History Month is one way to do this. The right way is to fulfill the dream that has eluded Black Americans for decades.”

Christine Disnute

Facilities Management Specialist | Real Estate

“Black History is important because it is American history. Highlighting this segment of our history provides us an opportunity to better understand where we have been, as a nation and as people, and how we move forward in unity. It also provides a platform to celebrate and spotlight Black American excellence.”

Thais Howard, PE

Director | Engineering, The Northwest Seaport Alliance

“Black History Month is an opportunity to highlight the contributions of African Americans that helped build this country and make it a better place. In order for us all to have a unified future, we must all understand our past. This time of reflection and remembrance serves as an inspiration to me.”

Jamie “Vick” McGee

Patrol Officer/MA MFT | Security

“Black History is valuable to me because this time affords us the opportunity to acknowledge and highlight the many who have fought and overcame adversity, oppression, marginalization, and inequities in a nation that still harbors and manifests systemic racist ideologies, policies, and legislature.”

Pat Patterson

Assistant Director, Facilities

“Black History Month means to me a chance to compete. To be able to compete for everything within my capabilities and reach the highest goal of any other race. To be able to walk into the room and command the respect I deserve and earned. The ability to have the same tools to fight for justice for all. Our work is still not done. Thank you to my foremothers and forefathers who paved the way to make this possible.”

Media contact:

253-428-8674