The month of February is observed and celebrated as Black History Month across the US and Canada. To mark the occasion this year and to ensure that TI Fluid Systems joined in the celebrations, the US/Canada Diversity and Inclusion Committee organized a special program on the afternoon of February 23rd at the company’s corporate headquarters in Auburn Hills.
The guest of honor was Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr., a Detroit based historian, musician, storyteller and teacher, who spoke about African American History in the US, accentuating the narrative with music.
Introducing the special guest, Hans Dieltjens, the President and CEO, made the point that TI Fluid Systems is committed to the practice of Diversity and Inclusion across the globe. “This celebration of Black History Month is a good event, not only to recognize the value of African American employees at TIFS, but also to appreciate and celebrate the courage, persistence and valuable contributions of the African American community to the US and the world,” he said.
Rev. Jones opened his narrative with the observation that American history is black history and vice versa. Starting with his fascination about black spiritual music as a young boy growing up in Detroit, Rev. Jones informed and entertained the audience with tales of the African American experience in America, from the 17th century all the way up to the present.
Rev. Jones said that music was the thread that knit this nation together, with black slaves using whatever objects they could, fashioned instruments like the banjo, to make music. Their music was not written down and was handed down from generation to generation. As each generation grew and expanded, their own experiences transformed the musical landscape of America, giving rise to new forms of music such as the Blues, Country Music, Jazz and Rock n Roll. He shared the stories brave pioneers of the emancipation, the underground railroad and the civil rights movement, like Harriet Tubman and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He recounted the influence of black musicians such as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and Mahelia Jackson.
Rev. Jones was joined by his daughter Arnecia in singing several of these historical songs in multiple musical styles. He accompanied his own singing on multiple instruments, switching between guitar, harmonica, banjo and violin. Rev. Jones rendered a spontaneous song about TI Fluid Systems, called TI Fluid Systems Blues, which he made up on the spot, to the great delight of the audience.
Thank you to everybody involved in making this important event a roaring success and a wonderful celebration of the African American community in our business and in the wider world.