February 20, 2023 — As we celebrate Black History Month, we thank the many Black leaders who have helped expand access to affordable, quality housing, including our own Bruce Watts.
Bruce has been with Woda Cooper Companies for the past 10 years as one of our housing development leaders in Virginia. He recently agreed to also serve in an expanded role as our Chief Diversity Officer. Although this title is new, Bruce has a lifetime of experience seeking and promoting equality and inclusion.
We asked Bruce to reflect on the importance of celebrating Black History Month:
“When I think of Black History Month, my mind centers on the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the basic tenets was that for civil rights to exist, all people must have equal access in education, employment, and housing. Unfortunately, People of Color have historically been subjected to substandard housing, going all the way back to slavery and still today in many disadvantaged neighborhoods.
At Woda Cooper Companies, I’m proud that we help change the history of peoples’ lives and their communities by providing not just decent but quality, safe, affordable housing. Some people who live in our communities have never before had access to a home with amenities like energy-efficient and modern kitchen appliances, room to store their belongings, quality finishes, or ample parking. We build the kind of housing anyone would be proud to call home, including essential workers, families with children, seniors on fixed incomes, and persons with disabilities and special needs.
I’m also very proud that many of Woda Cooper’s Virginia properties are named to honor civil rights and community leaders such as the men and women who advanced education and medical access for freed slaves (Freedman Point in Hopewell); housing advocate Mr. George Banks (the Banks at Berkley in Norfolk); former Mayor Dr. James Holley (Holley Pointe in Portsmouth), and former state Senator and Delegate Dr. Benjamin Lambert (Lambert Landing I and II now under construction in Chester).
Two years ago Woda Cooper Companies made Martin Luther King Jr. Day an annual paid holiday. Less than half of U.S. companies do the same. That was powerful — it shows the tremendous value our company places on civil rights and Dr. King’s essential legacy.” — Bruce Watts, Vice President-Development and Chief Diversity Officer. Photo by Myavision Photography.