Inclusion Heroes: MLK, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Harvey Milk & More

Why did this DiversityInc Top 50 company fund a massive 9/11 memorial of inclusion heroes Hear directly from the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, George Halvorson, in this email to Kaiser employees:


Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson

Dear KP Colleagues,

Next Tuesday, the massive cloth covering the largest bronze statue west of the Mississippi will fall, and the country will have a new monument dedicated to human rights and peace.

The monument is 52 feet wide, 25 feet tall, and made up of more than 40,000 pounds of bronze.

It’s an amazing piece of work. Sculptor Mario Chiodo was so struck by the horror and tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, that he decided to create a celebration of the exact opposite human spirit—a sculptural collection of 25 heroes of enlightenment.

The sculptor features heroes of peace and inclusion like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Oskar Schindler, Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, Chief Joseph, Helen Keller and Cesar Chavez.

The full list of heroes is on the memorial website—along with visuals showing the monument and the site.

One of the unique aspects of the monument is a series of pedestals set up with the faces of the heroes available for review by touch for the visually impaired.

The whole point of the sculpture is to encourage healing and to create a continuing celebration of enlightened, inclusive, visionary behaviors.

Schools will be using the monument as a way of teaching kids about the kinds of values and positive achievements that are possible—even in a world where events like the 9/11 tragedy also happen.

So why am I celebrating the “Remember Them” monument in my weekly letter

Kaiser Permanente helped fund the statues. We were asked by the sculptor to help him realize his dream, and we both helped with contributions and helped bring other businesses and community organizations to support the project.

We also helped set up the site for the monument. In fact, the actual physical site of the monument has now been officially named the Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park by the City of Oakland.

It’s appropriate and right that the park is named after Henry J. Kaiser, because Henry Kaiser was a giant of inclusion in his time. He was a pioneer for equal opportunity hiring—both by race and gender. Rosie the Riveter was literally a Kaiser employee, and I have a deeply treasured framed Rosie poster hanging on my office wall signed by eight of the actual Rosies from the old Kaiser Shipyards—pioneers for equal opportunities in a shipyard production setting for women workers. It is very appropriate to have the new park housing “Remember Them” named after our co-founder.

The City of Oakland will be hosting a dinner to celebrate the monument.

If you get a chance to visit Oakland, you may want to stop by the site. It’s a couple of blocks off Broadway near City Hall. It’s a highly urban setting—in an area where a monument like this can really help nurture and support the sense of inclusion and community spirit.

On this 9/11—at 6:00 a.m.—the site will host an interdenominational, inter-religious, intercultural, sunrise vigil for peace.

The sunrise vigil will be held on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy at the World Trade Center as an act of healing and remembrance.

If you are in the Bay Area on 9/11 and would like to be part of a sunrise vigil to celebrate humanity and offer support for local and world peace, everyone is invited.

So my letter this week celebrates all of the people at Kaiser Permanente who have been helping out for the past couple of years to turn this historic, visionary monument that celebrates both enlightenment and peace into a reality.

Well done.

Be well.

George

Read more on CEO commitment.

Also, read interviews with CEOs and other leaders of the DiversityInc Top 50 companies.

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