All throughout the month of February, individuals and organizations find unique and intentional ways to celebrate Black History Month. And the result is a beautiful collaboration of culture, identity, accomplishments, and innovation. It’s a powerful reflection upon the contributions of Blacks to America’s rich history and a look toward the future where we continue to embrace and uplift important topics like why DEI matters in Technology or supporting Black-owned businesses.
There are endless options for how anyone may choose to celebrate Black History month. Some may choose to read, research, and learn. Others may choose to immerse themselves in music, art, and new viewpoints. Still others may pause to recognize the many sacrifices made and courageous actions taken to advance Black culture in America.
In honor of Black History Month, NuPaths wants to celebrate some of the most influential black tech leaders. These individuals have blazed an important path that continues to benefit us all. It’s a path that has grown extensively over the years, yet there are so many new trails yet to come. We invite you to join us in recognizing these leaders who have made and are still shaping the tech industry with insight and innovation that will have a profound impact on the future of our world. Keep reading to learn more
Clarence "Skip" Ellis
Clarence “Skip” Ellis is the first Black man to earn a Ph.D. in computer science. Without his efforts to forge his space in this arena, the way in which we work and play in the digital world would be vastly different. Ellis overcame obstacles and made sacrifices to rise in a field where he was the first and only Black man to learn and perform at this level. In turn, he devoted himself to teaching underrated young people the virtues of computer science. Ellis also pioneered a computer technology known as "groupware" which allowed multiple users to work on a document at the same time. That technology helped develop programs like Microsoft Sharepoint and Google Docs. Imagine a world where we did not yet have such technologies! We owe much gratitude to Ellis’s innovative mind and inclusive leadership.
Jewel Burks Solomon
Young, Black, and female, Jewel Burks Solomon faced significant roadblocks in her early career. But her passion and dedication to tech innovation blazed a new path many others walk along today. At just 27 years old, Solomon sold Partpic, a startup that makes it easier to identify industrial parts, to Amazon. This accomplishment alone would be enough to earn her a spot on this list, but this is merely the beginning of her trailblazing career. She then went on to become the first head of Google for Startups in the US where she applied her entrepreneurial success to designing and developing tools and resources to help other businesses grow. Solomon’s career continued on a climbing trajectory where she went on to serve as a managing partner at Collab Capital, an investment firm focused on Black entrepreneurship.
Dr. Mark Regis Hannah
If you've ever enjoyed the special effects of George Lucas or Spielberg movies, you have Dr. Mark Regis Hannah to thank! This tech innovator co-founded Silicon Graphics and designed 3D special effects systems that are widely used in film and scientific research environments such as aerospace and biotechnology engineering labs. Dr. Hannah’s career path demonstrates that there are endless possibilities for how people can combine art, science, and technology into a creative collaboration that is as technical as it is entertaining. When we think of special effects we may first and foremost think of film and TV, but Dr. Hannah’s contributions to the tech world have just as much application and impact in traditional science and technology fields as well. This is a powerful reminder that one person’s contributions can have a profound ripple effect that spans far beyond its initial intended purpose, and grows for generations to come.
Marsha Rhea Williams
Last, but by no means least, we celebrate the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science, Marsha Rhea Williams. Williams has led foundational work in the field of querying large databases, which is an essential component of many aspects of cybersecurity, cloud services, and more. Let’s reflect on this for a moment. Large sums of data is only as valuable as its organization and ability to be shared and accessed. This is exactly the space Williams dedicated her career to improving. And in doing so, she has made significant advances to the user experience which allows people to research, compile, and grow data that is advancing technology across the globe. And if this isn’t enough to make her a trailblazer, she is also leading programs to diversify the fields of computer science and Engineering, breaking down barriers and stigmas that for far too long have held back the industry.
This Black History Month NuPaths recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of these individuals and countless others who have taken major leaps of faith to venture into the tech and science career fields to pave new paths toward diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Their contributions serve as powerful demonstrations that innovation is never limited by race, gender, or anything else. We are each only limited by our own passion and determination to succeed.
NuPaths is proud to provide tech pathways and resources for every person, including the Black Leaders of the future. We have the distinct pleasure of seeing new testimonies unfold through students who enroll in our programs to advance their tech skills. Whether we see it in our lifetime or not, every person who forges a career in tech is leaving their mark on the world. And the more individuals we can equip with tech and leadership skills, the more potential we are sending out to make a difference. We again thank and recognize these phenomenal Black leaders for their contributions to Tech!