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Black History Month 2024: Celebrating Black Brilliance in Tech


February is Black History Month, a time to honor the rich history and achievements of African Americans. This year's theme, "African Americans and the Arts," resonates powerfully within the tech industry. While art often conjures up images of paintbrushes and canvases, there’s a certain artistic flair to the world of technology. From crafting code to designing intuitive interfaces, tech professionals are the artists of the digital age. 

Paving the Way 

Throughout the digital landscape, Black brilliance and leadership shines brightly. Talented innovators make groundbreaking contributions despite facing systemic barriers and underrepresentation — shaping the tools and platforms we use every day. Many famous Black software engineers have made significant contributions to the field. 

An example of an individual who paved the way and helped build the tech industry is Katherine Johnson. She is like a human computer, playing a crucial role in NASA's early space missions. Her calculations ensured the safe return of multiple astronauts. Another talented pioneer was Mark Dean. His specialty was in computer science. Dean co-invented the ISA, a foundational technology for personal computers. 


Another incredible individual to mention is Evelyn Boyd Granville. She was a pioneer for women of color in computer programming and became a contractor to NASA where she designed computer software that helped analyze satellite orbits for the Project Mercury missions. Granville, and others who rose up with her during her time, are portrayed in the book and film [2016] “Hidden Figures,” which earned an Oscar Nomination for Best Picture.


Roy Clay Sr. was a Black individual who helped create the history of Silicon Valley and Hewlett-Packard, or HP. He’s been penned as “the Grandfather of Silicon Valley” and became HP’s pioneer in software. Their stories are testaments to resilience, ingenuity, and a passion for using technology to make a positive impact on the world. 

The Art of Innovation 

The tech industry is more than lines of code and hardware; it incorporates creativity, problem-solving, and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. In this way, tech experts are artists who can mold the digital world with their vision and talent. There are multiple ways Black tech professionals encourage innovation.  

The Google Public Policy Fellowship was founded by Chanelle Hardy. She was the head of civil and human rights at Google. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students who are interested in internet and technology policy with the opportunity to spend a semester where they can explore future academic and professional interests. The program exposes historically underrepresented students to career opportunities in the tech industry. 

Tech entrepreneurs can bridge the digital divide by creating innovative solutions to bring internet access and digital literacy to underserved communities, fostering greater equity and opportunity. A great example is Kimberly Bryant, who founded Black Girls Code. Bryant is passionate about empowering young girls of color to pursue careers in tech! 

And, we must mention Angel Rich — founder of Wealth Factory with the goal of improving financial literacy through technology and games! The hope is to reduce global poverty by promoting easy and affordable access to financial education through online games and adaptive testing. She also founded Black Tech Matters in 2016, a nonprofit dedicated to making STEM fields more diverse and inclusive. The organization nurtures relationships among companies, nonprofits, governments, K-12 schools, and historically Black colleges. 

Black leaders in technology have created a legacy of encouraging inclusivity. Timnit Gebru founded Black in AI in 2017. This community of Black researchers in the AI space aims to reduce bias and advocates for increased Black representation and fairness in the AI industry. It also provides financial assistance to Black AI professionals in tuition, visa fees, travel, and registration costs for AI conferences. All of these great programs create an artful masterpiece within the tech space! 

Celebrating & Continuing the Legacy 

Black tech talent continues to be at the forefront of innovation. Black History Month is more than just about looking back on history; it's also about celebrating the present and looking to the future. Now is the time to support Black tech talent, both established and emerging, and to ensure that all voices continue to be heard. We can engage and learn from all paths of history and appreciate its profound impact on our lives. 

Celebrating different cultures to gain insight helps to promote inclusivity and respect for all team members. Looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month as a team? Consider: 

  • Reading a book by a Black author as a team 

  • Supporting Black-owned businesses and organizations during a group lunch 

  • Watching an inspiring webinar during a team collab session 

This month is an opportunity to learn and appreciate the vital role Black talent plays in our society year-round. An inclusive culture helps individuals feel valued and supported. Here are some additional resources you can explore: 

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At KellyMitchell, we have a long-standing commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce while helping our clients achieve the same — Interested in joining our team? Apply today!


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