February is America’s way of righting the incorrect image of inferiority projected for centuries upon the people labeled as “ Negro, Colored, Black, African American” by mainstream America. One way to Celebrate “Black” history month is by educating others about influential contemporary African Americans in the tech industry.
Provided below are short biographies of the following contemporary tech trailblazers: Anthony Frasier, Brian Watson, Kimberly Bryant, and Ken Coleman. They are 4 influential African Americans in the tech industry. Let these quick bios serve as a starting point for student discovery. In addition, culturally responsive pedagogical strategies are provided that utilize tech for lesson delivery.
Ken Coleman was one of the first African Americans in Silicon Valley. He served in several senior management positions for Hewlett-Packard. In 1982 he became Vice President of Product Development for Activision. In 1987 he joined Silicon Graphics where he held several executive level positions. He continued his impact in the Silicon Valley raising venture capital funds in the millions for software companies he founded. Today at the age of 69 he is a member of the board of directors of city national bank, MIPS technologies, and United Online.
Anthony Frasier is the co-founder of The Phat Startup with co-founder James Lopez. The Phat Startup is an integrated media company that produce content for entrepreneurs. This tech entrepreneur is from Newark, NJ. Before his current success, he was the co-founder of the mobile startup Playd and the game review site entitled, “TheKoalition.com.”
Brian Watson is the Director of Experience at VSCO. VSCO is a photography app and sharing platform that allows users to apply filters on their pictures and post them to their profiles. VSCO was established in 2011 and headquartered in Oakland, Ca They also have another office in New York City, prior to this position he was an analyst for the Union Square Ventures investment team.
Kimberly Bryant is the founder and executive director of Black Girls CODE (BGC), a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology.” BGC introduces girls of color (ages 7–17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Prior to starting Black Girls CODE, Kimberly enjoyed a successful 20+ year professional career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an Engineering Manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 50 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer.
Culturally/ Linguistically Response Strategies for learning about influential African Americans in Tech
- Create a Webquest – create a series of questions that students must research online about various influential African Americans in Tech. Students can work in small groups and report out their findings by creating a multi-media presentation
- After researching the individuals, a student representative from each group can represent that person in a mock talk show( create costumes and props). The host can ask questions about the impact of tech on world issues and also ask about how they managed to excel in an industry that is not very diverse.
- Students can develop a list of questions and write to these trailblazers.
- Students can create an infographic of the biography.
- Student digital presentations can be added to the school’s website or newsletter.
- Share these bios on the school loudspeaker during morning announcements.