Black History Month: Technology

This third instalment of our BHM content series showcases the work of six great Black technologists and inventors. Creativity is part of our everyday lives. It’s our passion, our raison d’être. For Black History Month, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate this community’s rich artistic and creative heritage. Every week in February, we’re honouring the work of Black creators in fields that are near and dear to our hearts. As the two first articles covered visual arts and literature this one presents great creatives in the field of technology before we release our last article on architects next week.

It is in our nature to praise and applaud the advancements and creations of great pioneers, groundbreakers, and revolutionaries. These creatives are never comfortable with the status quo, which motivates them to push the limits of formats and mediums, as well as the boundaries of their respective fields. Through their work, not only do they help the arts to progress, but they most importantly help society move forward, both in North America and around the world.

Let’s take advantage of Black History Month to soak in new colours, patterns and perspectives that can inspire us. Broadening our horizons, listening and understanding are what will allow us, as a community and as individuals, to grow and push our own boundaries.

Together, let’s work to tear down biases and overcome the algorithms. Let’s all celebrate the contributions of these great creatives.

Lewis Latimer

Few have touched as many lives with their inventions as Lewis Latimer. Skilled and dedicated, Latimer’s work ranged from developing the telephone patent alongside Alexander Graham to modifying Edison’s lightbulb to make it more accessible. Today, his work and legacy live on in every room we enter, every train we take, every hospital we visit, and every city around the world.

Henry Sampson

A man of art and science, Dr. Henry Sampson was a renowned inventor and film critic. The first African American to earn a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering in the U.S.A., he developed the patent for the gamma-electric cell in 1971, which still powers satellites and space missions today. In 1977, he also published one of the pioneering books about Black film history, Blacks in Black and White.

Marian Croak

Dr. Marian Croak has revolutionized tech and been a trailblazer for women in STEM. One of the inventors of VoIP, Dr. Croak’s work and 100+ patents allow us to text and use platforms like Zoom. Inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013, Dr. Croak is now the VP of Engineering at Google and is working on Project Loon, an initiative to improve Internet access in remote areas.

Marc Hannah

A fan of Jurassic Park or Terminator 2? Then you’re also a fan of Dr. Marc Hannah, the co-founder of Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI). Established in 1982, the company created the software and hardware that revolutionized 3D imagery across all industries. Since then, Hannah has also worked with SongPro to create an MP3 player for Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance.

Kimberly Bryant

In 2011, Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls Code, a program that teaches computer programming to young girls of color. Using her own savings, Bryant created BGC to ensure young girls have the chance to learn and are never again excluded from tech. Today, BGC has chapters all across the U.S.A., and even one in South Africa. Over 14,000 girls have joined, and the goal is to reach 1 million by 2040.

Jessica O. Matthews

Jessica O. Matthews is the founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, a sustainable-infrastructure company. A dual citizen of Nigeria and the U.S.A., Matthews’s career began at 19 when she invented SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball. Since then, she has been invited to the White House by President Barack Obama, rang the NASDAQ bell, and was named one of Fortune’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs.

See you on February 22nd for this series’ fourth article that will be showcasing the work and great legacy of five Black creatives in the field of architecture. In the meantime, for more initiatives such as this one, make sure to visit our Instagram account.