This month we celebrate Daniel O. Hennigan, our Association’s first African-American member who joined in 1967. During urban renewal in Charlotte in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Hennigan made it a priority “to offer defense to homeowners who felt the government offer on their property wasn’t fair.” He often went to court to win higher values for his clients, and won every time. Hennigan saw it as his “responsibility to offer the full services of the real estate profession, especially to those who could not find support for their claims and rights.” Mr. Hennigan passed away in 2009, but his legacy continues to live on today. Today his daughter Cynthia Benton runs Hennigan’s Realty.
In 2006, diversity issues became a formal focus for the Association in recognition that member involvement and leadership needed to be more reflective of the Association’s diverse membership and broadening demographics of the Charlotte community. The first initiative hosted by the Association was held in October 2006 and was called “Developing African-American Leadership of the Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association.” The initial event was a huge success with attendees expressing interest in getting more involved. The first Diversity Council Chair in 2007 was Roger Parham, who later became the first African-American elected as president of the Association/CarolinaMLS in 2017.
In January 2019, Brenda Hayden became the first African-American female elected as president of the Association and CarolinaMLS. Brenda asked Dot Munson (2007 and 2008 President of the Association/CarolinaMLS) to install her as 2019 president and recognized Dot for her efforts to cultivate diversity within the Association. During her remarks, Ms. Hayden recognized prior Realtor® leaders who had the courage to be first. These leaders withstood adversity and were able to the lay the foundation for greater inclusion during times when it wasn’t popular and when the flame of social consciousness was just a flicker. Among her leadership priorities for 2019 are courage, inclusiveness and creating greater connectivity to the community.
As we reflect on the importance of Black History Month, consider getting involved with the Association’s Diversity Council!