To The Future and Beyond: 10 African American Innovators Who Are Making Strides in Technology
As Black History Month kicks off, it’s important to not only recognize the African Americans who have impacted history and created the inventions of the past, but also those who are diving in and making changes today. Check out these 10 great black innovators who are developing educational mobile apps, disrupting how the police force works, encouraging other tech entrepreneurs, and more.
As the CEO of Mindblown Labs, Jason Young is behind Mindblown Life, a game that helps students and young adults learn more about financial literacy. Yes, he’s making a really cool mobile app, but he’s also working to educate and inform young people—double win!
Angela Benton and Wayne Sutton
According to research from private investment research firm CB Insights, only one percent of internet companies are founded by African Americans. NewME Accelerator hopes to change that. Angela Benton and Wayne Sutton, both well known in the online world, started the incubator, which offers support, networking, and mentorship to startups in the tech industry founded by under-represented minorities.
Joel Williams, Jr.
Joel Williams was 11 years old when he came up with the idea for The Smart Button, which helps young kids learn to tie their shoes. Black Enterprise recently called the now 14-year-old Williams a black innovator to watch, and with future goals of becoming a scientist and writer, he is definitely an innovator with tons of potential.
Memphis native Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls CODE in order to increase the number of women in digital and technology fields. Programs in seven cities introduce girls ages seven to 17 to STEM and computer science, among other technologies. The organization was a Google RISE Award recipient in 2012 and plans to expand across the country in 2013.
Bringing together technology, analytics, and police work, Toney Armstrong, the director of the Memphis Police, spearheaded the Blue CRUSH (Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History) pilot. The program uses IBM predictive analytics software to identify and track crime trends as they are happening, providing data to help police officers shift and enhance their techniques for fighting crime. The program is a finalist for the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize: Innovating Innovations Challenge.
NASA is pretty much the epitome of technology and innovation, and NASA’s chief information officer is an African-American woman: Linda Cureton. In addition to working to increase productivity within NASA with her department, Cureton also writes a blog that covers issues such as cyber security and virtual technologies.
Featured in CNN’s Black in America 4, Anthony Frasier is known for co-founding mobile start-up Playd, which has a check-in feature for gamers, and The Phat Startup, a company that works to take lessons from hip-hop and incorporate them into business.
Not a traditional tech entrepreneur, filmmaker Issa Rae has been an innovator is using social media and technology tools to promote and fund her work. Her Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl project was a Kickstarter success, raising nearly twice as much as the original goal. Rae is currently partnering with Shonda Rhimes for a new show on ABC.
Dr. Paul Judge
Inventor, entrepreneur, and investor Dr. Paul Judge has been in the technology game for several years. Highlighted by the MIT Technology Review as a great innovator under 30 back in 2003, when he was only 26. Currently serving a chief research officer of Barracuda Networks, Judge previously served as chief technology officer for Purewire, Secure Computing, and CipherTrust.
We’re highlighting Pioneers in the Game every day here on Madame Noire. Click here to meet all of our salutes.