Black History Month Fireside Chat

AAA-ERG and Veterans ERG Host Congressman Bobby Rush

Congressman Bobby Rush

Argonne’s African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG) and Veterans ERG hosted a Black History Month fireside chat on February 22, 2023. Diana Schmitt, co-founder of the Veterans ERG, coordinated the Chat. AAA-ERG President, Justin Breaux, moderated the Fireside Chat.

The conversation delved into Congressman Rush’s life of service as a Black Panther, soldier, and elected official, and his insights into mobilizing partners and people to bring about fundamental change for disenfranchised communities. During the Q&A session, he shared his experiences and insights on various topics.                                                               Fireside Chat Event recording

When asked about what he has learned about mobilizing partners and people to bring about change, Congressman Rush stressed the importance of a strong faith and ability to form coalitions with people who share similar values and goals. He emphasized that change happens when people come together to demand it.

When asked about which piece of legislation he would like to be known for, Congressman Rush spoke of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Health Care Act (MBS Act). The Act was named after a woman who suffered from postpartum depression (PPD) and died by suicide in 2001, just three months after giving birth to her son.

The Act aims to increase research on postpartum depression (PPD) and improve the delivery of healthcare services for individuals experiencing PPD. Congressman Rush was a co-sponsor of the Act and played an important role in advocating for and helping to pass the legislation, which was signed into law in 2018.

Congressman Rush was also asked about how the Black experience has changed in terms of access and opportunity since he entered the military. He noted that while there have been some improvements, much work still needs to be done to address systemic racism and inequalities in society.

On the topic of energy sustainability and justice, Congressman Rush emphasized the importance of addressing climate change and promoting clean energy. He praised Argonne National Laboratory for its contributions to advancing energy sustainability and justice through research and development.

Congressman Rush also shared his experience of joining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and co-founding the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. He discussed how his time in the Army influenced his decision to join these organizations and his desire to fight for justice and equality.

Diana Schmitt, Bobby Rush and Justin Breaux

The event also featured a gift presentation by Diana Schmidt, co-founder of the Veterans ERG, to Congressman Rush, thanking him for his service and contributions to the country.

In conclusion, the Fireside Chat with Congressman Bobby Rush was an insightful and engaging conversation, shedding light on his life of service and providing valuable insights into social justice and activism. It was a great way to celebrate Black History Month and honor the contributions of Black leaders and activists throughout history.

BHM – Ahmaud Arbery Memorial Run/Walk/Roll

In recognition of Black History Month

Ahmaud Arbery Memorial

Date/Time: Thursday, February 23, 2023 @ Noon
Place: Building 240 – TCS Conference Area (Conference room 1407)
Distance: 2.23 mile run (add ~1.1 mile optional); ~ 1.5-mile walk

In recognition of Black History Month, the Argonne African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG), Argonne Running Club (ARC), and CELS DEI&A Advisory Council will sponsor this run, walk and roll event.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while out running in
Brunswick, Georgia. Because Arbery was never able to finish that run, people in the running community, locally and globally, gather annually to help him finish it years after his slaying. The 2.23-mile distance honors Ahmaud Arbery.

All finishers will earn a 100-point Virgin Pulse voucher. Food, drinks, and raffle at finish. All employees and their guests are welcome.

Questions: Scott Ehling x3338 Argonne Running Club | Facebook

Fireside Chat with Congressman Bobby Rush

The AAA-ERG is partnering with the Veterans ERG to host a Black History Month Fireside Chat with Congressman Bobby Rush and AAA-ERG President, Justin H. S. Breaux.


The conversation will last for 40 minutes focusing on the congressman’s life of service as a Black Panther, soldier, and elected official. The conversation will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A from the in-person audience.

Key details…

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Building 241

Room: D-172

If you have something you’d like to ask the Congressman about his past as a Black Panther, soldier, or elected official? Send us a note with the question.

FYI, this chat will be in-person with limited space, let us know if you’re going to join us so we understand space needs.

Argonne African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG)

[email protected]

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

(“MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY – January 16, 2023 – National Today”)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day) is January 16, 2023. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. (“2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service |”)

  • Engage with their community and create constructive action.

  • Act on Dr. King’s legacy of social justice and equity.

  • Recommit by volunteering to serve others (e.g., clean up a public space, mentor a young person, or help those who are food insecure).

We remember Dr. King as a husband, father, friend, and fierce advocate for the betterment of all people. Honor his memory by organizing, volunteering, and spreading the word. Remember to MAKE IT A DAY ON, NOT A DAY OFF, for you and those around you. (“Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 16, 2023 | DoDEA”).

Chicago Events celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Day 

Free and Cheap Martin Luther King Day Chicago Events

Honoring MLK’s legacy through service

Kwanzaa Celebration of Family and Culture

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a week-long (December 26 – January 1) African American holiday to celebrate family, community, and culture. Dr. Maulana Karenga Professor of PAN-African Studies at California State Long Beach, CA, founded the Kwanzaa celebration in 1966, in the aftermath of the Watts Riots Black Freedom Movements.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” (harvest). Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their religion or religious holidays but to reaffirm and restore our African culture’s rootedness. Most Kwanzaa celebrations are based on the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) and seven symbols. Every day of the celebration, the family lights one candle and focuses on one of the principles in conjunction with one of the symbols.

The Seven Principles:

  • Unity (Umoja): Striving for and maintaining unity in the family and the community
  • Self-Determination (Kujichagulia): Defining oneself and speaking for oneself
  • Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima): Building and maintaining a community and making our brother’s and sister’s problems our own and solve them together
  • Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa): Building and maintaining our businesses for ourselves and each other
  • Purpose (Nia): To build and develop our collective communities together
  • Creativity (Kuumba): To do whatever we can to leave our communities more beautiful than when we inherited them
  • Faith (Imani): To believe with our hearts in our people, our families, and the righteousness of our struggle
(image courtesy of*/happy-kwanzaa-2020-template-design)


The Seven Symbols:

Kwanzaa celebrations usually include a special mat called a mkeka in which all the other symbols are placed. On this mat are placed a candle holder called a kinara, seven candles which are collectively called Mishumaa Saba, mazao (fruits, nuts, and vegetables), a unity cup called Kikombe cha Umoja, an ear of corn called vibunzi and zawadi or gifts. (



Why is Kwanzaa important? 

As I began to learn more about celebrating Kwanzaa for this AAA-ERG Blog post, I continued to ask myself this very question.

The phrase “cultural connectedness” is the quality and quantity of a person’s connection to others that is at the heart of the Kwanzaa celebration. If you want to make positive changes in a community or even a diverse workplace like Argonne, it starts with ensuring your culture aligns with your values.

Kwanzaa’s seven principles and Argonne’s Core Values share the commitment to building a culture of collaboration, integrity, creativity, and making a positive impact on common goals. In addition, the guiding principles of Kwanzaa emphasize the value of the relationship for how family unity is a bridge for stronger communities which leads to developing a positive and fruitful culture of togetherness.

For more information about Kwanzaa:

Events in 2022:

Monday, December 26
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Like to paint? You can do so at Bottles and Bottega in Arlington Heights.


Tuesday, December 27
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
City Colleges of Chicago to Host Kwanzaa Celebration at Malcolm X College


Wednesday, December 28
12:00 – 2:00
The DuSable Black History Museum and the Bolozi Wazee/Shule Ya Watoto present a Kwanzaa observance program