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Influential Black Figures in Tech to Know About

by Jernice Kelley
Web Content Contributor

Since the beginning of U.S. history, the tech industry has struggled to reflect the diversity of the country. Major tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have put out diversity reports every year since 2014, reporting consistently low single-digit percentages. Despite the odds, there are still many influential black figures who have made a name for themselves in tech.

Outspoken Agency’s YouTube video interviewing Julia Collins.

Julia Collins

Julia Collins is the co-founder of Zume Pizza, a technology-enabled food company that uses robots for pizza production. She is the first black woman to co-find a company valued at $2 billion. Collins newest $2.7 million project is a climate-friendly food platform and snack brand funded by black and women sources.

Justin Jernigan’s YouTube video “Inventing Our History: Mark Dean.”

Mark Dean 

Mark Dean is a computer scientist and engineer that helped develop the color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He also holds three of nine PC patents after co-creating of the IBM personal computer released in 1981. 

Rob Richardson’s interview with Jewel Burks-Solomon

Jewel Burks Solomon

Jewel Burks-Solomon was the founder and CEO of Partpic Inc, a startup that makes it easier to identify industrial parts. Burks-Solomon is currently the Head of Google for Startups in the U.S. and serves on the board of reImagine: ATL

Igirl Tech News’ YouTube video interviewing Melissa Hanna

Melissa Hanna

Hanna is the co-founder and CEO of Mahmee, a patient-centered care management platform health workers can use to make referrals. The company unites health care forces to deliver individualized care online and in person.

British GQ’s YouTube video interviewing Dr. Dre and Jimmy lovine

Andre Young (Dr. Dre) 

Dr. Dre is probably the most recognizable name on this list as a well-known hip-hop artist and producer. Dr. Dre produces Beats Electronics and several years later the business was bought out by Apple. After the deal, Dr. Dre became hip-hop’s first billionaire with an executive position at the corporation.

While these are just a few figures that have broken into the tech industry, there are so many more. Diversifying workforces, no matter the profession, is something every company should strive for. Diversity lends its hand to a fresh perspective, new ideas, and newly shared knowledge between individuals. 

There are not enough people of color in higher-level positions in tech. These big tech firms have had centuries, not only to increase diversity, but to show genuine support for their black employees. It is important to celebrate the black figures who have had a hand in progressing technologies and consequently acknowledge the problem. 

Diversity in the workplace is a starting point to racial equity. Companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Apple are taking steps to increase diversity and support employees from all different backgrounds. While change may be slow, it is still occurring and should be acknowledged.

Check out People of Color in Tech to follow the stories of those venturing into tech and keep an eye on more influential black figures such as:

  • Delane Parnell: Founder and CEO of PlayVS
  • Kai Bond: Partner and co-founder of Courtside VC
  • Jasmine Arielle Edwards: Founder of i-Subz
  • Ime Archibong: Business development and product partnerships team at Facebook

Feature image by Jernice Kelley.

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