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The artifacts of our Black history: Three colleagues on passing old family traditions onto a new generation

In recognition of Black History Month, we asked some of our colleagues to share a special part of their own Black history through a favorite artifact or family heirloom.

In the second part of a weekly series that will run throughout February, we hear from three McKinsey colleagues on the small family traditions that have had an outsize impact on their lives—and how they’re keeping them alive through a new generation.

Old family traditions for a new generation

Ralph Johnson, Americas ombud, Cleveland
Ralph’s father would always cut his hair with a simple pair of clippers, often sharing wisdom along the way: “When you succeed without suffering, it’s only because somebody else has suffered before you.” To this day, Ralph remembers those conversations—and those haircuts—and he has continued the tradition with his own son.
Jacqueline Carey, recruiter, Boston
For Jacqueline, a doll gifted by her grandmother was the first toy that “looked like me, that had a hair texture like mine.” Now expecting her first child, she’s not only excited to pass the doll down to her daughter, but Black joy and excellence, too.
Nick Noel, engagement manager, Washington, D.C.
Nick’s mother came to the U.S. from Haiti and baked and sold cakes out of her home. While her baking business never took off the way she had hoped, her immigrant story and entrepreneurial spirit continues to inspire Nick today—and his work with the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility.

You can see the first part of the series here.