Coming back from SXSW 2016, I felt the need to do more—to have a broader impact on black college students’ exposure to entrepreneurship and ultimately their career trajectory. That’s why I made the “pledge” to NCCU, Hampton and North Carolina A&T to bring five exceptional business or engineering students to attend SXSW 2017 as a guest of Black Wall Street. [Read more on charge in the second of this three-part series.]
As the famous idiom goes “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”, and as we say in Hip-Hop culture via re-appropriation, “A Picture is Worth a Billion Bucks”.
Remember these two historical dates – August 12, 1958 and March 13, 2016.
On the first date, history was made in New York when a group of jazz musicians united on a block in Harlem to take what would become a photo of “legend” (above). I consider it safe to say that the genius of the men and women in this image was broadly known by black culture and jazz enthusiasts.
On the other hand, I would argue that they were not much more than a blip on the conscience of the world outside of the closed room jazz sessions, speakeasys or the weekly Cotton Club performances in Philly, Baltimore, NYC and Chicago. But however obscure these people were during the shooting of this image, many would grow to super stardom. Pictured above are Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver and Mary Lou Williams. Like many other ‘greats’, these musicians practiced and instituted the 10,000-hour rule to reach the pinnacles of success in music.
In a similar vein to the black music and art renaissance, we have a contemporary group of Black Genius practicing their 10,000 hours in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology. Their faces came together during the 2016 SXSW Interactive in Austin.
My point in writing this article is straight-forward—the genius is plentiful—just look at these two photos. And note that thousands of photos were taken during SXSW—these exhibit just a fraction of the Black Genius on display during SXSW 2016.
The photo above was taken at the SXSW #WeDC House on March 13, 2016. And the narrative of the people in the photo present some important connection points:
If you need:
Check for Natalie Cofield
of the Urban Co-Lab
Business Boot Camp—
Check for Michael Hall
of Digi Grass.
Diversity in Hiring—
Check for Stephanie Lampkin
Check for Aaron Saunders
of Luma Lab
Impact on Black Girls—
Check for Marissa Jennings
Tech & Innovation Support—Check for Erin Horne McKinney of the Office of the Mayor (D.C).
Literacy Education Tech—
Check for Gil Perkins
of Words Liive
Innovation in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems—
Check for Joey Womack
of Amplify 4 Good
As the discussions about equality and inclusion regarding Blacks in tech-related entrepreneurship continue to flood our timelines, let’s take a minute to shine the floodlights on the brave entrepreneurs that are forgoing large salaries, job security and immediate gratification to build companies for the future. These are the companies that will continue to make America great.
I look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Austin. In the meantime, please remember one thing—
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain