Events

Celebrating Black History Month in 2024

By February 5, 2024 No Comments

It’s officially February, which means that we have started the celebration of Black History Month. Starting in 1926, Americans have set aside this time in February, coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, to recognize the achievements of Black Americans in our culture. BOCA is proud to observe Black History Month this year and every year, and to celebrate diversity and inclusion wherever we can.  

In honor of that, here are some influential Black figures in the history (and present!) of technology. 

Dorothy Vaughan
Well-known now for her representation in the film Hidden Figures, Dorothy Vaughan was one of NASA’s “human computers” that put Neil Armstrong on the moon. She also made herself integral to the process of transitioning from human mathematicians to computerized ones by learning, and subsequently teaching, the Fortran programming language. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously and paved the way for women of color in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and coding.  

Roy Clay Sr.
Roy Clay Sr. has been an integral part of Palo Alto and Silicon Valley since the 1960s. He was a founding member of Hewlett-Packard’s computer division and started the company Rod-L Electronics in the 1970s. Some consider this company to be one of the first Silicon Valley start-ups, early in a long line of incredible tech companies that have changed the world.  

Omowumni “Wumni” A. Sadik
Omowumni Sadik is a chemist and inventor from Nigeria, currently working as a professor at NJIT. She developed microelectrode biosensors able to detect drugs and explosives, which have recently been used to detect levels of COVID-19 in wastewater to monitor infections. Her technology will have applications like recycling heavy metals out of industrial waste, with immense public health and environmental applications.  

Though the accomplishments of people like these are innumerable and wide-ranging, in the tech industry, there is work to be done. Estimates in recent years show that though around 13% of the population of the U.S. is Black, only 8% of employees in the tech industry are. On top of that, only about 4% of top earners and people in executive positions are Black, indicating that most Black employees are in the lower levels of tech companies. They are also underrepresented in the fastest-growing tech roles and are projected to continue falling behind.  

It will take a lot of work to close this equality gap, and there is no better place to start than your own companies and communities. Be inclusive, be willing to learn and grow, and most of all, commit to creating positive change around yourself. Diversity fosters new innovation and ideas! 

 If you are looking to donate in honor of Black History Month, here are a couple of places to start: 

BIT Foundation
The Blacks In Technology Foundation is the largest community of Black people in the technology industry. Through community-focused activities, events and outreach, The Blacks In Technology (BIT) Foundation is “Stomping the Divide” by establishing a blueprint of world-class technical excellence and innovation by providing resources, guidance, networking, and opportunities for members to share their expertise and advance their careers. 

NAACP
The NAACP is the home of grassroots activism for civil rights and social justice. The organization advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights of Black America. In our cities, schools, companies, and courtrooms, they are the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Thurgood Marshall, and many other giants.