BILLINGS — February is Black History Month and here in Montana, less than 1% of the state’s residents are African American. However, members of the Black community who call Billings home are doing some incredible things.
One of those community members is Billings native D’Vaughn Hayes, a man whose passion for Billings is inspiring others to love the Magic City the way he does.
“I love Billings honestly, I do,” said D’Vaughn Hayes on Wednesday.
It’s hard to find someone who appreciates Billings just as much as Hayes does.
“The growth that Billings has seen over the 32 years of my life is pretty incredible if you ask me. Not just from a population standpoint, but business, and industry, and things like that,” Hayes said.
Hayes is half Black and half white which gives him a unique perspective in our mostly white community. The Senior High School grad has seen not only how Billings has changed, but how its people have as well.
“I had more interactions with racist people growing up, for sure. I was teased every once in a while growing but I don’t think that’s the case anymore, so that makes me proud of Billings,” said Hayes.
He’s worked hard to be a part of that change himself.
“I had years and years of being involved in the community and different volunteering organizations,” Hayes said.
The TDS Fiber field marketing manager is not only on the leadership team of Billings NextGen, but he’s also on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion advisory board for the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
And he’s the driving force behind TEDx Billings, an event featuring talks and performances from inspiring community leaders.
“I want to showcase all the incredible people that we have here in Billings, the ideas, innovations, just the different perspectives that people hold here,” said Hayes.
When he’s not investing in his community, he’s investing in his wife and three kids as head coach for multiple youth leagues.
“I really just love playing with my kids,” Hayes said.
He hopes they will eventually appreciate Billings the way he does.
“I hope they grow up and they see that, while they could leave and go other places, Billings is a great town. And hopefully, they see that their dad had some part to play in making Billings a great place for them to grow up and live in,” said Hayes.