Dr. Carl Mack’s journey to success has been long and winding. But the Mississippi native has carried each lesson learned along the way with him, leading to his latest project in which he calls the most comprehensive Black history calendar ever assembled.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Dr. Carl B. Mack is a graduate and Distinguished Engineering Fellow of Mississippi State University (Bachelor of Science, Mechanical engineering) and was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Clarkson University in 2010. He formerly served on the Board of Trustees for Clarkson University, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the advisor board for the College of Engineering at Mississippi State University.
On March 1, 2005, Mack became the fourth executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), one of the nation’s largest student-governed organizations.
His presence at NSBE was immediately felt. In each of his first five years, the organization set records for membership, reaching 35,493 members in 2010, up from its previous high of 12,842 before his arrival. He has also been instrumental in increasing NSBE’s financial resources to record highs: helping expand the organization’s cash reserves from $3.5 million to $11.0 million; securing a largest-ever grant of $1 million from a NSBE sponsor; helping build NSBE’s top-level sponsorship to record levels; bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars to strengthen NSBE’s IT infrastructure; pushing attendance at NSBE’s Annual Convention to nearly 10,000 attendees and working with NSBE’s National Executive Board to pay off the mortgage on NSBE’s new World Headquarters building, among other highlights.
His extraordinary leadership led to an increase in visibility for the organization, with appearances on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and ABC’s Good Morning America, features in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and news coverage by major networks in each of the cities SEEK was held. He received recognition in Ebony magazine as one of the Top 150 Black Leaders in America. In July 2009, Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, presented Mack with the National Naval Officers Association’s top honor for work in the field of diversity: the Capt. Charles L. Tompkins Award.
Dr. Mack currently resides in Fort Washington, Md., with his sons, Joshua and Jonathan.
Our Mississippi Magazine spoke with Mack about his latest project.
Our Mississippi: What is the Black Heritage Day comprised of?
Dr. Mack: Black Heritage Day IV is comprised of 8.5% events, 40% Black Women and 51.5 Black Men% from Black History.
OM: What made you decide to create the calendar?
Dr. Mack: I wanted a more complete education. I believe a holistic education has four major components: Training (K-College), Financial, Spiritual and Cultural. I grew up in going to church, so I had a solid Spiritual education. I graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, so I had a solid Training education. I learned the concepts of investing and managing money; thus, I have been retired for since 2013. The aspect of my education that was an “F” was Cultural. I couldn’t give you 100 words about Black History if you told me I couldn’t use slavery, Martin L King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver.
Yet, I worked with a white guy, Henry Cody, in Seattle who one day spoke to me about Henry O. Flipper. I had no clue who Flipper was…he was the first Black to graduate from the West Point Military Academy. I felt truly embarrassed and ashamed. Studying Black History, the scales were being removed from my eyes with each and every lesson. I knew others were in the dark, and God gave me the concept of teaching our people with daily lessons.
OM: This is your fourth calendar. How does this one compare to the others?
Dr. Mack: Black Heritage Day IV is different from my other efforts because each entry is specific to the day it is on! There are 366 days featured in BHD IV and one day, December 5 (Reparations) is the only day not specific. I chose December 5 to set the stage for December 6…smile.
OM: Why do you feel like learning Black history is so important to us?
Dr. Mack: History is about DEFINITION, and he who DEFINES, RULES! The definition about Blacks in America has been that we did little to nothing, except be enslaved. As such, how can we act as OWNERS of this nation if we don’t know that we helped BUILD this nation? In effect, we just “go along to get along”, we easily accept “that’s just the way it is.” Learning Black History moved me from acting like a VISITOR to claiming my OWNERSHIP. I went from “renting America” to “owning America!”
OM: What are some of the most notable points people will see in the calendar?
Dr. Mack: You learned why the church services many of us have attending on New Year’s Eve is called Watch Night. You learned why our enslaved ancestors considered New Year’s Day, “The Most Dreaded Day of The Year.” You learned about outstanding Blacks in Classical Music. Notable people? Every one of them featured in Black Heritage Day IV uplifted me…EVAH one of them!
OM: An excerpt from your calendar talked of the 13th Amendment and how it came about. Without going into too much detail, explain that to us and how it officially ended slavery.
Dr. Mack: An Amendment requires two major components: 2/3 approval from Congress and 3/4 of the States to ratify. At the time of the proposal to abolish slavery there were 36 States; thus, 27 States were needed to ratify the proposal to make it an Amendment. On December 6, 1865, Georgia became the 27th State to ratify what became the 13th Amendment, thereby abolishing slavery in America.
OM: How do you feel we should celebrate that date (December 6) going forward?
Dr. Mack: Many of us know that the Emancipation Proclamation, although wonderful, did not end slavery and free ALL Blacks in America. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, which was fought over slavery, did not free ALL Blacks because slavery was still legal in America, specifically the Border States (Maryland, Missouri, West Virginia, Delaware, and Kentucky). When General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and on June 19 (Juneteenth) by proclamation of President Lincoln freed those enslaved did not end slavery in America. Freedom for ALL, slavery abolished, occurred on December 6, 1865; thus, I believe we as Blacks should make December 6 Freedom Day. On this day, we should not only celebrate, but spend money ONLY with Black owned businesses!
OM: When is the calendar to be released and where can it be found?
Dr. Mack: By the time this goes to print, Black Heritage Day IV shall be available for all. In my quest to make it extremely affordable, the cost is $19.99, FREE SHIPPING!
OM: What do you feel people will take away from reading the calendar?
Dr. Mack: Pride and the knowledge to think more critically about today’s events. I want people to move mentally for acting like a VISITOR, to that of an OWNER! I want our children to better understand the price paid for their opportunities and why anything short of excellence from them is a useless, empty excuse. I’m not saying they must be anything specific, but I am clearly saying, “whatevah you want be, be EXCELLENT at it!”