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February 28, 2019

Building Our Collective Future

  • Life at Waymo
A photo of Reginald McKnight surrounded by people clapping
A photo of Reginald McKnight surrounded by people clapping

In celebration of Black History Month, I was honored to be asked to speak at Greenville High School in my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. Black History Month offers us a time to reflect on our history, and this invitation gave me the unique opportunity to reflect on my own.

My parents come from humble beginnings: They grew up as sharecroppers picking cotton in rural towns in South Carolina.

My mother pushed aside social and economic barriers like segregated schools and poverty to finish first in her class in high school and college. In 1965, my father arrived in Greenville with just $11 to his name, knowing no one, and with no place to call his own. Both went on to become esteemed professionals and leaders who have spent nearly 55 years dedicating themselves to shaping countless generations of youth throughout South Carolina along with raising two corporate lawyers and a clinical psychologist.

Despite their circumstances, they set their hearts and their minds on a brighter future for all and a desire to make a difference. This is my family history. Others’ history may be different. But no matter our race, ethnicity, or religion, we all have people in our life who have overcome obstacles of their own, in their own way.

I believe it is so important to commemorate these histories because they unite us and are so often the story of people — sometimes with absolutely nothing in common but a shared vision for the future — working alongside each other to build it.

Following the eloquent example of those who have come before us, I believe we must all work together to build our collective future and to embrace a diversity of opinions, backgrounds, and perspectives. It will only make us stronger.

Working on behalf of an organization that shares this vision — as well as a genuine desire to create a diverse and inclusive team — has always been incredibly important to me. At Waymo, I’m blessed to work with a team that believes the key to ensuring our products and experiences are impactful for all of our customers begins with creating a workplace that is truly diverse. That is how we build our collective future. Because only when we do this can we truly innovate for the benefit of all.