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This year's Gaines Family Reunion was particularly poignant for me and for my daughter and many of my cousins, nieces, nephews, and other relatives who shared hugs, kisses, and stories last weekend in Orlando. First, it was sad to acknowledge that our family historian, Clarence Gaines, had died, leaving us with more questions about our expanding family that available answers. Meeting his brother, Douglass, and nephew, Doug, Jr. for the first time was comforting in our collective time of mourning.
Then, it was the realization that our family was increasingly multicultural. Significant others who are Jewish, Russian, Hispanic and everything in between are also now a part of the Gaines equation. And that's a big aha moment for me.
The question is, who is in your family mix? And what exactly does a modern-day American family look like in the days of diversity, multiculturalism, mixed marriages and inclusion?
We'll explore this topic and its impact on the very social fabric of our society.
About The Gaines Family
The Gaines Family represent the descendants of William and Louisa Gaines, two slaves who were allowed to marry on the Georgia plantation in Georgia in the 1700s. They had 14 children, and the family was not split up, like many slave families during that era of African bondage. One of their 14 children, Gus Gaines, had 14 children, and we are of that lineage.
The reunions started in 1986 when cousins Theresa Johnson and Lula McKeever decided to pull the family together for biannual gatherings in celebration of our heritage and deep roots in America. Meticulous family research followed when Clarence Gaines took charge of that multigenerational activity.
Now some 32 years later the matriarch of the family remains Theresa Johnson, who just celebrated her 90th birthday.
Our family has owned small community banks, has produced doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, business owners and countless ministers in the past 200 years. We are also aligned with the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, even though we are not directly related to him. And two Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church are family ancestors.
My mother's paternal grandmother was Sarah Gaines, one of the 14 children of Gus Gaines. I pay tribute to Sarah, my great-grandmother, and all other members of the Gaines family who came before me.
We are Americans. We are a multicultural American Family!
Thomas Friedman’s best selling book The World Is Flat, certainly applies to the world of diversity. Several years ago I realized that the work I was doing in diversity and multiculturalism not only applied to the United States. I was ultimately connected to a global network of diversity professionals all committed to advancing the work throughout the world.
Garth Dallas is one of those global change agents whose life work is making a significant difference in Liverpool, England, where he resides, and throughout the United Kingdom. We are very fortunate to have him as our Morning Keynote Speaker at the November 6th Multicultural Conference. This is his first appearance in Boston, and his message will detail the European perspective of global diversity and why its significance is having a long-lasting impact on communities throughout the continent.
State Street Corporation is the LEAD SPONSOR of the Multicultural Symposium Series.
Garth Dallas is a Jamaican-born British entrepreneur and lawyer, who is highly regarded for his work in promoting social inclusion and equality of opportunities in the UK, for over 20 years. He has received accolades and recognition as a high profile and respected voice on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility, Commercial law, and Employment law.
Garth claims that being from a large Jamaican family, filled with great diversity of characters, instilled in him, from a very young age the values of ‘collective before self.’
He left Jamaica in 1987 to take up a Chemical Engineering academic scholarship in Hungary. The first year was spent in Budapest learning the Hungarian language, in preparation for spending the next 5 years in a rural university, The University of Veszprem, completing a BSc in Chemical Engineering and a MSc in Chemical Control Engineering, alongside native Hungarians.
Those years in Hungary were very significant in shaping his social consciousness and understanding of cultural diversity and the need to extend one’s head above the parapet to act as a beacon of change and awareness.
Garth left Hungary in 1994 as a ‘social activist’, having experienced first-hand the turbulent and rapidly dynamic political and social changes in East and Central Europe, some of which were extremely negative in relation to the acceptance of ‘differences’ and the treatment of minorities.
He frequently speaks of how those negative experiences helped to harden his resolve and taught him the importance of education and educating others in the beauty and value of diversity.
Garth had already embarked on various entrepreneurial projects whilst at university in Hungary and had a burning desire to build his own successful enterprise which would allow him the necessary freedom to explore his vision of influencing change towards achieving a fairer society, in an ever shrinking globe, in the age of globalisation.
Before leaving Hungary he applied to the University of Liverpool, in the UK, and was accepted, for their MBA course, thus cementing the next phase in his development as an adopted son of Liverpool, which has been his home ever since. He is a life-long fan of Liverpool Football Club, as are his two sons who were both born in Liverpool, so it was not difficult to settle quickly into the civic, business and social fabric of the fantastic city.
After completing a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) he had managerial roles in several companies and built a career in the Management of Diversity and Inclusion.
He also completed a law degree at the University of Central Lancashire and qualified as a lawyer, specialising in Business and Employment Law.
Driven by a sense of social justice and the belief in an equitable, compassionate world where difference is understood, valued and respected, he was eventually led to create two companies, Global Diversity Partners and Fortis Legal – both heavily linked to principles of fairness and inclusivity.
Global Diversity Partners was recently rebranded to Diversity Partners International. It is a specialist diversity and inclusion company that provides a range of related services to private, public and voluntary sector organisations to foster good workplace practices.
Fortis Legal offers a comprehensive suite of up-to-date legal compliance, experienced legal representation, proactive legal protection and practical commercial advice supported by strategic planning and implementation mentoring.
The path of both businesses has enabled Garth to be involved in community engagement, tackling social exclusion, empowering and developing local community leadership and helping to build various communities’ capacity to meet their own needs.
Garth is still driven by what he terms “the absolutely insane lack of fairness, decency and equality in society”.
He is the founder/editor of the award winning Diverse Magazine, The Diversity & Inclusion Top 50 UK Companies, and hosts an annual Diversity and Inclusion conference that explore how organisations can gain Business Growth and Competitive Advantage through effective Diversity and Inclusion.
He also Chairs the African Caribbean Business Support Group and is a member of the Commonwealth Association of Liverpool, thus maintaining his links to, and providing support to, the Jamaican and Caribbean Diaspora.
For more information about Garth Dallas visit his website at:
We hope that YOU will attend this upcoming conference. It will be held at the University of Massachusetts - Boston Campus on Thursday November 6, 2014 from 8am to 3pm. Tickets are only $99, which includes a 12 month membership in the Multicultural Symposium Series.
Click Here to register for the Multicultural Conference.
Click Here to learn more about the Multicultural Conference.
For further information contact Carole Copeland Thomas at 508 947-5755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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