This is perhaps the most important Black History Month since 2009, the year that President Barack Obama was first elected, the nation’s first African American president. Our new President enters office under a cloud of suspicion of being a closet racist. While he and his administration dispute this characterization, he has made suspect statements in the past, including repeatedly attacking President Obama’s nationality.
This Black History Month started rather rough, with President Trump hosting a group of influential, African Americans, who all just happened to be Trump supporters. In that meeting President Trump showed a shocking amount of ignorance for Black History and African Americans’ contributions to the United States.
I’m always looking for an opportunity to learn new things and better myself and I took this year’s Black History Month as such an occasion. Like most Americans, I know the American heroes such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Jesse Ownens, and Jackie Robinson, to name just a few.
I write about the overlap of technology and politics, which is becoming more common in this age. I wanted to learn more about modern day African Americans who I had not heard about, who perhaps faced insurmountable odds, and who were amazing entrepreneurs right here, right now, making a difference.
(1) Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code
Kimberly Bryant launched Black Girls Code in 2011, with the goal to introduce girls of color to computer science. Since then, her organization has introduced more than 4,000 girls in nine cities to computer science.
(2) Brandon Nicholson, The Hidden Genius Project
A group of tech community minded entrepreneurs sought to help young black men uncover their “hidden genius.” They decided to develop a training program that build coding and entrepreneurial skills and confidence. Brandon Nicholson is the Executive Director of the Project.
(3) Laura Weidman Powers, CODE2040
By 2040 it is projected that the African Americans and Latinos will represent 42% of the population in the U.S. That is where CODE2040 got its name and vision to ensure those groups are fairly represented in Silicon Valley and the tech industry. Laura Weidman Powers, CEO and co-founder of CODE2040, places software engineering students of color in internships with major tech companies and start-ups.
I suggest you learn more about these inspirational people and the incredible work they’re doing. There were so many more people I could have included in this list, but to me, these three stood out because they were using their time, resources and network to help others in the community to thrive in the new economy.