News | Feb. 16, 2021

Black History Month Spotlight: Twiana Speaks shares what this year’s theme means to her

By DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

A Feb. 3  Presidential Proclamation on National Black History Month calls “on the American people to honor the history and achievements of Black Americans and to reflect on the centuries of struggle that have brought us to this time of reckoning, redemption, and hope.”

This year’s theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” was provided by Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the founders of Black History   (asalh.org)

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation spotlights Twiana Speaks, who shares what the celebration of African American History Month means to her.

Name, title/location:  Twiana Speaks, inventory management specialist, DLA Aviation at Warner Robins, Georgia

How long have you worked for DLA? 12 years

What does the 2021 Black/African American History Month mean to you?  It is an opportunity for the world to learn more of what exactly Black/African Americans have contributed to society.

Tell us something unique about your heritage, country of origin or family traditions. While growing up, my great-grandmother made it mandatory that we all gathered at her house for all special occasions (no exceptions). Food and family were very important because it was where stories and traditions were handed down. Holidays and birthdays were a highlight in my childhood because when we gathered, the whole neighborhood would join. It was such a blessing.

What misconception about your heritage or country of origin would you like to correct?  It is a misconception that all blacks just want a handout and we don’t want to work. This falsity is the beginning of many of the issues in America. The fact that we would just like the playing field leveled is just the beginning. This conversation needs to be had soon.

In regard to this year’s BHM theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” what do you consider the most important cultural value for you and/or for those close to you?  The most important cultural value for my family and me is that I continue to pass down the same family values that I received from my grandmother and great-grandmother: continue with family gatherings because that is how you keep the history of your family alive. Communication is key -especially as the family grows - teach them family recipes, show family heirlooms, pictures and stories, etc. These things are important for the Black family today.

The world today is moving so fast with social media and other technologies, that some of these things are being forgotten as the older family dies off. I taught my daughters to do better and to go higher than me in life and for them to teach their children the same, and always remember their elders.

Tell us a little known fact that most people do not know about you. I am related to Emmett Till. My uncle Wheeler, my uncle Joe, and their cousins Simon Wright and Emmett, all lived in Chicago and went to spend the summer in Mississippi with family. When the incident happened, the night abductors went looking for Emmett, they went to the room and my uncle Wheeler was in one room by himself. They shined the light on him and they said, “Nope, that’s not him.”  They went into the next room where Emmett was, shined the light, saw Emmett, and pulled him out of the bed/house… and the rest is history.

How important is it to you that Defense Logistics Agency Aviation recognize this month?  It is very important that DLA recognize this month because of the issues that plagued us in the ’50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, and still plagues us today. We spend most of our time at the workplace wherein issues are not talked about, but swept under the table or there is a double standard. They should recognize not just the familiar names [of African Americans], but also those that are not so familiar. DLA should showcase a person or two a month as to what they invented, or what they were the “first” at doing. I don’t think Americans knows what all we have our hand in because it is not taught anymore or it is only highlighted once a month.

What do you want the DLA Aviation workforce to take away from celebrating this particular month?  That African Americans have contributed so much to the shaping of America. They should take away more of a understanding of the contributions and what we went through to get to where we are today. Even though we are still fighting, it is important that they know about our journey.