Originally Published TD Bank.
The TD Bank Black History Month series in February celebrates the message of Black Excellence and Leaving a Legacy, values that are in line with TD’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion. The phrase, Black Excellence, has been around for many years and has more recently become a popular hashtag on Twitter. There are different perspectives about the exact meaning among individuals and the media in general. However, the most cited definitions include the following: African-Americans who portray great qualities and abilities that make the black community proud.
Hugh W. Allen, Senior Vice President & Commercial Real Estate, South Division Head in Charlotte, NC, reflects Black Excellence in every way. He has worked in the banking industry for more than 25 years, joining TD in 2014.
Hugh feels a special responsibility to the legacy of his family as his maternal relatives have deep connections to the leaders of the Civil Rights movement. Even more important are the work and sacrifices his parents and previous generations of family members made to enable his success. It’s that legacy that he tries to ensure his own children will continue.
His maternal grandfather had a Chevron gas station across the street from the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King’s Sr. was the preacher. Hugh’s mother walked to school each morning with Martin Luther King Jr.
One of Hugh’s earliest memories was at the age of four when Martin Luther King Jr. came to his Houston home for dinner. The china used at that dinner has become a treasured possession for Hugh and his siblings.
“It’s affectionately known as the Martin Luther King China in our family” Hugh said. “Every Thanksgiving, our tradition is to use that china for a Thanksgiving dinner, and we use it symbolically as remembrance for the things we should be thankful for.”
Visit to Grandfather’s Birthplace Deepens Understanding of Sacrifices
Hugh’s father was a dentist who grew up on a farm in Louisiana as one of 10 children. He is incredibly proud of his father, who was part of the first generation in his family to attend college.
It’s that legacy that inspired him to take his children to see the house where his father was born.
One of the things I did with my children a few years ago, instead of going to a beach for spring break, I took them to Port Allen so they could see the small house where their grandfather was born,” he explained. “It’s barely standing, covered with vines and branches and trees. And this house is the size of our living room. “
He wanted his children to understand more deeply how far they’ve come from that home by seeing it themselves.
“They still have a long way they can go,” he said. “They can go wherever they want now though, because of the sacrifices made by others. And don’t forget that. If you know where you came from, you do a lot better job of going, of getting where you want to go. “
Hugh feels his legacy is not only relevant to his own family but to all of us.
“That’s the American Dream, partake in it, and participate in it” he concluded.
Watch the video here.