Visionary Brings Black Girls into Tech with Celebrated Hackathon

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Do black girls like to hack?  Some would say “no,” leaning on long-held stereotypes of black people avoiding everything technological other than an iPhone or Twitter account.  But that’s not the case.  There are black women who love to bang away on computers as much as the geek down the hall, and millions more  young black girls with a brilliant hacker just waiting to bust out.

That’s the nature of “Black Girl’s Hack,” an event that is both unique and exciting, getting young black girls to boost their self esteem without worrying about whether they got their hair done.  Events like this one are important for building up the black community and freeing young black women from the constraints of the society around them.   Lawrence Watkins, an Ivy League-educated tech entrepreneur at writes all about it:

When Kat Calvin called Amanda Spann and Janelle Jolley about her idea of starting a black girls’ hackathon series, they both had the same reaction: “Are you crazy!?” It turns out that Calvin was crazy — crazy motivated to change the demographics of the technology sector. With fervor, she quickly built a team to help her.  Black Girls Hack blossomed when this group brought Calvin’s seed dream into reality.

“Currently, African-Americans make up less than one percent of tech founders,” Spann told theGrio about the group’s enterprise, “but we can do something about that.”

Black Girls Hack is the first non-profit hackathon series specifically targeting the African-American tech community. The idea can be traced back to the moment these three friends met in New York City at the Focus 100 Symposium, which connects thought leaders and tech startups founded by black women. “We were all experiencing the same problem of not being able to find a technical co-founder for [our] startups. Having a technical co-founder is important because you need it to get into incubation programs for startups and it makes it easier to build out tech products,” Spann explained.

All three young ladies already have startups of their own. Calvin is the co-founder of Character’s Closet, a web destination that lists the outfits that popular TV characters wear, plus how to buy those outfits or similar looks at different price points. Spann started Glamobile, which is slated to become a review and recommendation community for fashion, beauty and shopping apps. Lastly, Jolley has spawned Sidewalk District, a platform for local and independent retailers. It is a virtual sidewalk allowing people to browse participating stores anytime, anywhere.

Their inaugural Black Girls Hack event was held in Atlanta last weekend and it turned out to be a huge success. Yet, the most amazing thing about this event is the fact that these three African-American, female technology entrepreneurs did not know each other two months ago. But through their resolve to change the technology landscape through Black Girls Hack, they were able to acquire sponsorship from companies like MailchimpSendGrid, and Limitless Smart Shot in a short time.




One comment

  1. Now, if we can just get the wealthy in our community to support our brothers and sisters in the tech scene, and black folks stop complaining about the lack of support coming from silicon valley, we might just have something here. We should never ask someone else to do that which we can do for ourselves.

    If anybody follows the tech scene, they know that silicon valley would be nothing without the committed investors. There is enough black wealth in Atlanta to make it the black silicon south. I look forward to the day when black unity is not a dirty word. We are our brothers and sisters keeper.

    I applaud these sisters, and please keep up the great work.

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