Mike McQueen and Bernadette Morris both marked my life by opening doors of opportunities for me.

In order to bring Black History Month to life, I like to tell my children about real African Americans that have impacted my life so today I want to acknowledge two Black Americans (a man and a woman) who blessed my life personally and professionally.

The first individual, Mike McQueen, played an important role in my career in the early 1990s when I was only a police desk cub reporter at The Miami Herald.  McQueen, as we fondly called Mike, was a brilliant assistant city editor who was as popular in the newsroom for his sharp, wise cracking humor as we was for being a reporter’s editor.  During my time at The Herald’s police desk, Mike was often the ONLY editor who consistently gave this blue-collar kid from Miami’s Little Havana the opportunities to go out on real “live” crime story assignments.  Before he succumbed to cancer in 2009, I was fortunate enough to tell him how much I appreciated what he did for me.

The second person in my “Black History Hall of Fame” is my former business partner Bernadette Morris, CEO of Sonshine Communications and Black PR Wire.  Without Bernadette’s early trust in me I honestly wouldn’t have been able to launch Hispanic PR Wire in 2000, one of the greatest blessings I have ever had in my life.  Bernadette’s investment and her confidence in me during seven years of partnership helped me launch a dream that has formed the business person I am today.  (Fortunately, our Latino-African American connection literally paid off in 2008 because we sold Hispanic PR Wire to our then rival PR Newswire).

People like Mike McQueen and Bernadette Morris have given me a powerful testimony to share with my children about why intercultural and racial relationships are wonderful and important to cultivate.   It’s because of people like Mike, Bernadette and others that I not only tell my kids to build friendships with kids from other cultures and backgrounds but to ESPECIALLY favor relationships with my Black brothers and sisters.  Happy Black History Month!

Manny Ruiz is the founder of the Hispanic PR Blog and CEO of Hispanicize.  He blogs as a Latino father on PapiBlogger.com, where this story originally posted February 11.

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