Celebrating Black History Month: African Americans who have worked to advance technology for all
Bowling Green, KY. (February 1, 2021) - As Black History Month gets underway, Connected Nation wants to emphasize the hard work Black Americans have carried out to help advance technology.
African Americans have done and continue to do incredible things in technology – including working to close the Digital Divide for communities of color. Here are just a few examples:
Janet Emerson Bashen was the first African-American woman in the United States to hold a software patent, along with being CEO of the Bashen Corporation, a human resources firm with a focus on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Compliance. Her company specialized in investigating claims made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system. She developed a system that used peepholes, a camera, monitors, and a two-way microphone.
James Edward West developed the foil-electret microphone in 1962. It’s now used in almost all current microphones, including those found in most cell phones. He also co-founded the Association of Black Laboratories Employees (ABLE) at Bell Labs in 1970.
It's Not Just the Past, It's the Present
Doug McCollough, Cheif Information Officer of Dubin, Ohio, is a public servant who believes in closing the Digital Divide. Recognizing the need to encourage and support African-American communities through technology jobs and resources, McCollough joined forces with other African-American technology professionals to form Black Tech Columbus.
“When we spread the benefits of high-speed internet to communities of color, not only do those communities benefit, but so does the rest of society,” said McCollough.
Connected Nation's Director of Digital Inclusion, Heather Gate, is also quick to point out the tremendous power and opportunities that technology provides to communities – particularly historically disenfranchised minority communities.
“When you talk about disenfranchised African-American communities, you are talking about low-income communities where parents are struggling to make ends meet, keep their children safe, and to give them opportunities to strive and become success stories,” said Gate. “The tragedy is that we have the power to provide them hope and opportunities through technology, yet we have not quite figured out this conundrum. This needs to change.”
Trying to bridge the Digital Divide for minority groups can be tough, but the founder of Black Girls Code, Kimberly Bryant, is making it her mission. In her podcast, she strives to explain "how we can encourage more girls, especially girls of color, to be interested in technology, and how through that work we can help close the digital divide.”
We have lots of new stories and profiles coming throughout the month of February 2021. But we invite you to learn more about African Americans' contributions to technology now by exploring some of our past Black History Month Blogs here: