Tuesday, December 8, 2015

7-Year-Old Natalie McGriff Wins $16,000 for Comic Book About Natural Hair

Natalie McGriff is the 7 year old author of The Adventures of Moxie Girl. Her new comic book tells the tale of a little black girl who hates her natural hair texture. After cleansing her Afro puffs with some magical shampoo, however, her textured coils take on super powers that have the ability to save Jacksonville, Florida’s public libraries from being eaten by monsters.

McGriff presented The Adventures of Moxie Girl at One Spark, the world’s largest crowdfunding festival designed to connect creators with the resources they need to bring their ideas to life. Her comic book was a win, as the young author took home a check for $16,423.69.

Angie Nixon, McGriff’s mother, helped to author the book upon realizing that her daughter suffered with self-esteem issues and hated reading. “‘She now realizes how powerful and awesome her hair is and that in order for her to write a cool book, she needs to read more books and learn different word,’” Nixon says.

McGriff is the winner of One Spark’s Education category. Over 530 projects reportedly competed at One Spark and 300,000 people attended.

At the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in Atlanta, May 13-16, we will host several sessions that further explore the topics of entrepreneurship. Sessions like Finding Support for Your Business and Suppliers & Millennials Building Brands in the Digital Space may prove to be of benefit if your children have an entrepreneurial spirit like 7-year-old McGriff. The panels will discuss financing arrangements to jumpstart your business and how successful millennials landed partnerships with the world’s largest retailers, respectively.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/event/natalie-mcgriff-comic-book-natural-hair/

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens

Maurice Ashley immigrated to New York from Jamaica at the age of twelve, only to be confronted with the harsh realities of urban life. But he found his inspiration for a better life after stumbling upon a chess book and becoming hypnotized by the game. He would eventually break the chess world's color lines by becoming an International Grandmaster in 1999.

Ashley realized that chess strategies could be used as an educational tool to help children avoid the pitfalls often associated with growing up. In this book, he serves up compelling anecdotes about how chess has positively affected young players. He also offers tips on technique, how to make the game fun for children of all ages and levels, and how to overcome the myth that chess isn't cool. Through his guidance, readers will understand how chess strategies can improve a child's mental agility, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Chess for Success is a much-anticipated resource for parents, teachers, counselors, youth workers, and chess lovers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Maurice Ashley lives his passion. Through his love for chess, he not only made history as the first African-American International Grandmaster in the annals of the game, but he has translated his love to others as a three-time national championship coach, two-time author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. He is now working as a Joint Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center and MIT’s Media Lab to bring the benefits of chess and other classic games to a wider educational audience through the innovative use of technology.

Maurice has traveled the world as an ardent spokesperson of the character-building effects of chess. Coming from the rough and tough streets of Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York, Maurice has tirelessly shared his compelling story with young people in places such as the crime-ridden neighborhoods of Detroit, the townships of Cape Town, South Africa and the poverty-stricken jungles of Belize. His book, Chess for Success (Broadway Books, 2005) crystallizes his vision of the many benefits of chess, particularly for at-risk youth, and he continuously spreads his message of living one’s dream to universities, businesses, chess clubs and non-profit organizations around the globe.

His app, Learn Chess! With Maurice Ashley, has been sold in over 30 countries, and he has received multiple community service awards from city governments, universities, and community groups for his work. His drive and enthusiasm always have him on the go. In the fall of 2011, Maurice toured six Caribbean nations to bringing chess, books, and technology to kids in the region.


  • Speaking Engagements
  • Teaching Life Strategy
  • Chess Strategy Teaching
  • Tournament Host

Friday, October 30, 2015

Top 10 Minority Scholarships

Being a minority poses certain challenges that other individuals might not have to endure. When it comes to education, poverty, geographic region, and access to tutors and other opportunities may limit the potential for some.

In the United States and around the world there are private and public organizations that strive to provide more and better opportunities for minority students. One way to help these young individuals achieve their dreams is by helping them further their education. That’s where scholarships can be incredibly important.

There are many different scholarships available (more than 3 million in total), between private universities and colleges and those for which only a select few are even eligible. For minorities, whether they are African-American, Native American, or another heritage, earning a scholarship can be the difference between success in life and watching those dreams pass them by.

Here are the top 10 minority scholarships that are available on the national level (meaning they can be applied for by any minority, regardless of which state they live or where they plan to attend college).

National Achievement Scholarship Program.

This scholarship is made available through National Merit Scholarship Corporation. This organization has been a consistent leader in providing scholarships for thousands of students through the years and offers this particular one to deserving and ambitious Black American youth.

The main goal of the National Achievement Scholarship Program is to “increase educations opportunities for academically accomplished Black American students and encourage colleges to broaden their recruiting efforts.”

This particular scholarship is transitioning to the Achievement Capstone Program in 2016. Black American students interested in this scholarship need to be highly achieved in school with strong community service and ambition.

Learn more about this scholarship and its future through National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

CHCI Scholarship Program.

This scholarship is available for Latino college students. It is designed to help provide critical financial assistance to Latino students who are already enrolled in college. In order to qualify, the student needs to be in good academic standing and have a history of performing public service oriented activities throughout their communities.

The awards are: $1,000 for a community college or AA/AS granting institution, $2,500 for a 4 year academic institution, and $5,000 for a graduate level institution.

The scholarships are intended to provide financial support for tuition, room and board, books, and other direct educational purposes.

To learn more about this scholarship, visit CHCI.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs.

The purpose of the Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs is to help increase diversity in the nation’s colleges and universities. In order to achieve this, a more racially diverse student body is necessary.

There are numerous scholarships for minorities available to students through this program at all levels of college careers. In order to qualify, the student must be a legal citizen or resident of the United State, show proof of superior academic achievement, and be committed to teaching and research at the college or university level.

Learn more about these scholarship opportunities through the Ford Foundation.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

This organization is dedicated to providing financial support to Hispanic students throughout the United States. In order to qualify, the student needs to be of Hispanic descent, either directly or through family lineage.

There are different scholarships for students to consider applying for, so any Hispanic student wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should check out the Hispanic Scholarship Fund website directly.

The Korean American Scholarship Foundation.

Students who have Korean ancestry may be eligible for any one of the scholarships available through this organization. The Foundation offers private scholarships for Korean American students, focuses on promoting community and civic service among students, and nurtures pride in Korean cultural heritage and tradition.

In order to qualify, the student needs to show a clear financial need for assistance, possess strong scholastic achievement, have recommendation letters, compose an essay, and show extracurricular activities.

Learn more about these scholarships through the Korean American Scholarship Foundation.

American Bar Foundation Summer Research Grants.

The American Bar Foundation provides summer research grants for minority students, up to $3,000 that can be used to pay for some aspect of their college educational expenses. Each grant is provided to a different school, and they can change from one year to the next so it’s a good idea to check with the college or university about availability.

In order to quality, seniors cannot apply for the summer months following graduation. Only one grant is available to students each academic calendar. Learn about these grants by viewing Northwestern University’s page devoted to this minority based grant.

National Association of Black Journalists.

There are several scholarships available to Black students who are actively pursuing a degree in journalism. The Allison E. Fisher Scholarship, Carole Simpson Scholarship, and Larry Whiteside Scholarship are just a sampling of what’s available.

Students must be members of the National Association of Black Journalists, must be enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university, must have a major in journalism or communications related discipline, and must meet certain GPA requirements.

Learn about specific requirements at the NABJ Scholarships page.

National Medical Fellowships.

The mission of National Medical Fellowships is to provide scholarships to underrepresented minorities in medicine and health professions. There are a number of scholarships available to a wide range of minority students.

Learn more about these opportunities through the National Medical Fellowships website.

Xerox Minority Scholarships.

The company Xerox provides some great scholarships for minorities, from $1,000 to $10,000. All minority students are eligible to apply if they are enrolled in an accredited four year college or university and pursuing a technical degree.

To learn about specific GPA and other requirements, visit Xerox’s scholarships page.

William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fellowship for Minority Students.

This particular fellowship is made available three times per year for the Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation in Washington, D.C. Research, writing, and other requirements are necessary for minority students to be considered for this fellowship.

The students must exhibit an interest in nonprofit work and philanthropy. To learn more and apply, visit the Aspen Institute Program’s page dedicated to this minority fellowship program.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Black Girl Nerds

Black Girl Nerds is a place for women of color with various eccentricities to express themselves freely and embrace who they are.  This is not a site exclusively for Black women.  It’s for ALL women who are just as nerdy as we are and the men who love and appreciate us.  I named this site Black Girl Nerds because the concept of Black women as geeky-dorky beings is somewhat of an anomaly.  It’s against the order of things in the “Black Girl” world.  We represent a wide array of diverse women who embrace all cultures and refuse to conform to the status quo.
This community does not have an exclusionary purpose.  The term “Black Girl Nerd” is not intended to be derogatory nor is it racially biased.  It is a term of endearment to all women like me who have been attached to a stigma that is not an accurate representation of my personality or my idiosyncratic behaviors.

This is a website for every nerdy girl that can finally come out of the closet and tell the world that they are PROUD to be who they are—no matter what anyone says, does, or think.  This is a place where you can truly be yourself and not be judged by others.  This site welcomes girls of all races, but it was called Black Girl Nerds because it is a term that is so unique and extraordinary, that even Google couldn’t find a crawl for the phrase and its imprint in the world of cyberspace.  The mission is to put an end to that and know that many Black Girl Nerds exist on this planet.

This community encourages other bloggers, web creators, and the like to create niche sites such as this one to spread to the world that being a nerd is a lovely thing.  In fact, being a nerd is a gift and should be highly revered.  It is not often that you will find an unsuccessful nerd.  Therefore be nice to your fellow nerds—you never know, you may be working for them one day.

Source: http://blackgirlnerds.com

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Single Mother Of 3 Graduates From UCLA With 3 Degrees

WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A 28-year-old single mother of three boys graduated from UCLA with three degrees.

A packed house at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion cheered for Deanna Jordan Friday night.
“I needed for my sons to see there was a legacy that preceded them with college. I am the first in my family to go to college,” Jordan said.

Jordan grew up in Compton. After high school, she got pregnant at 18. She had her third son at 22.
“I had him and in the hospital I remember thinking, ‘I’m 22, there’s no future unless I can create one,’” Jordan said.

After two years at West Los Angeles Community College and three-and-a-half years at UCLA, the department scholar is graduating with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s in African-American Studies.
“She had limited time, plus she took the initiative,” Dale Tatum, a UCLA lecturer, said.

Jordan also founded the Compton Pipeline Taskforce—she and UCLA volunteers work on academics at Compton schools, including Carver Elementary, where she attended.

“I saw the difference in how my boys were in school in Brentwood and then how schools were in Compton where I came from,” she said.

Jordan credits family support and UCLA for making her dreams a reality.

“You can’t really succeed unless you fail, and I failed a lot of times, but it was my persistence and my willingness never to give up,” she said.

Jordan, who also works in the Compton mayor’s office, plans to take a year off before she heads to law school. She plans on becoming a district attorney

Source: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/06/13/single-mother-of-3-graduates-from-ucla-with-3-degrees

Friday, August 7, 2015

African American Quiz Bowl: Honoring the Legacy: Honoring the Legacy - Press Release

Author Brenda Lang-Knapp sheds light on the African-American truths and contributions to American history. After an extensive research, she put her findings together in “African American Quiz Bowl.” This is not a typical book about African Americans. It is an account of the many trials, tribulations, and contributions of African Americans to the United States in particular and the world in general. 

“The African American Quiz Bowl” is a compilation of facts about African American pioneers and leaders who have made an impact on people’s lives through their innovativeness and talents.  Many African Americans never received the recognition that they deserved because school curriculum and media outlets have neglected to include an unbiased accounting of their achievements. It is a resource that reveals the many contributions of Black people that have been omitted from the history books. 

The concept of the quiz bowl format is to enable teachers and students to learn about African American achievements in a contest type setting. Additionally, for teachers who wish to use the book as a contest, there will be a teacher’s guide of educational activities to complement the text. This will also help students become more knowledgeable about the past and use this information in decision making and lifelong learning.

Written in an easy-to-understand question and answer format, this book could make a difference in how African Americans are viewed in the United States and around the world. Readers should be able to see that they have been shortchanged in their learning, and that they would want to acquire a more accurate understanding and knowledge of this hidden past.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Is this Britain's cleverest girl? Ten-year-old is accepted on university course to study maths degree despite not going to school

She spends her spare time in a similar way to many other ten-year-old girls - playing with Barbie dolls and making loom bands.

But the key difference between Esther Okade and other children her age is that she has been accepted to study for a university maths degree - despite not going to school.

Esther, from Walsall, West Midlands, has enrolled on an Open University course months after she passed her A-levels - and wants to study for a PhD before running her own bank.

The girl, who gained a C grade in her maths GCSE aged six, has joined the course which started this month. Her younger brother Isiah is already studying for his A-levels - also aged six.

The siblings are both home-schooled by their mother Omonefe, who has converted the living room of their semi-detached, three-bedroom house into a makeshift classroom.

Mathematician Mrs Okade, 37, said: ‘Esther is doing so well. She took a test recently and scored 100 per cent. Applying to the university was an interesting process because of her age.

‘We even had to talk to the vice-chancellor. After they interviewed her they realised that this has been her idea from the beginning. From the age of seven Esther has wanted to go to university.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2965362/Is-Britain-s-cleverest-girl-Ten-year-old-accepted-university-course-study-maths-degree-despite-not-going-school.html#ixzz3UHX2neLn 
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ESSENCE Network: Jessica O. Matthews, An Inventor Who Created the Career She Wanted

Name: Jessica O. Matthews

Age: 26

Title: Uncharted Play CEO and creator of SOCCKET soccer ball

Location: New York, NY

Hometown: Wappingers Falls, NY

Twitter: @Jess_O_Matt

LinkedIn: jessicaomatthews

The gig: I am an inventor and I run a tech company that provides creations for the good of our society. I am best known for inventing the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that harnesses kinetic energy from playing. The energy can then be used for everyday purposes, which is especially handy in countries where electricity is scarce. For every 30 minutes of playing with the ball, up to 3 hours of LED wattage is generated.

The journey:  I grew up wanting to be an inventor, but was pushed to other industries in high school that had more structure. When I first invented the SOCCKET for a class, I was reminded about how much I loved making things—creating what wasn't into what is. Once I saw people's lives change because of something I created, I was hooked.

Her career highlight: Being named to Forbes' "30 Under 30" was a great accomplishment for me last year. Also, having a global brand like Toyota recognize the SOCCKET as an innovative invention that inspires social change was a major milestone. I was honored as a 2012 Toyota Mother of Invention and received a grant that gave me the much-needed capital to grow my business.
Confessions of a Black woman in technology: In the tech industry, there's already a bias that benefits men. A lot of firms expect to see men and it takes them a while to understand and believe what you're saying. Add in that you're a Black woman and no one knows where you're coming from and each conversation is an uphill battle. I have to have an extra shield to go into battle to beat all these stereotypes at once. The benefit is that when I do well, people do take notice because I am so different from others in the game.

Success 101: Stay humble and stay hungry.

Her networking tip: The best method for me is to build meaningful relationships with a tight-knit group of colleagues. Someone, or even several people, in your close circle will always be more connected or more of a networker and always be there to look out for you and be there for you to reach out to when you need help.

Her best time-saving tip: I like making lists. When you know what you need to get done you're better able to manage what you can do in one day.

In her downtime: I like to dance, mostly hip hop styles and lyrical. I also watch TV.

Her tech must-haves: Netflix is pretty clutch. I love Spotify as well for jamming out but I don't need my phone more than anyone else.

In her beauty bag: I love Make Up Forever Duo Matte foundation.

Her go-to power accessory: You can go a long way with some solid studs and a statement bracelet.

Her secret superpower: When I wake up, I'm instantly on. There is no groggy hour of trying to come to consciousness, I can jump out of bed and start problem solving right away.

Her theme song: “Flawless” by Beyoncé.

Company Website: http://unchartedplay.com/\

Source: http://www.essence.com/2014/08/17/essence-network-jessica-o-matthews-inventor-who-created-career-she-wanted/

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Joe L. Dudley Sr.

Joe Louis Dudley, Sr., Co-Founder of the DudleyQ+ brand, is one of the world's most sought after entrepreneurial masterminds.

Born May 9, 1937, he is the fifth of 11 children born to Gilmer L. and Clara Yeates Dudley. Joe grew up in a three-room farm house in the rural community of Aurora, in eastern North Carolina.

Labeled Mentally Retarded Early
Joe was retained in the first grade, labeled mentally retarded, and suffered a speech impediment. Throughout it all one very influential person, his mother, never stopped believing in him and is responsible for his overcoming these obstacles and becoming a role model for many.

Introduced to Fuller Success Program at 20
This journey to success began in 1957 when he invested $10.00 in a sales kit and began selling Fuller Products door-to-door while still a student at North Carolina A & T State University (Greensboro, NC). One of Mr. Fuller's goals, and one that Joe Dudley actively pursues today, is to help people to maximize their potential and achieve success.

Achieved National and International Success
From 1967 through 2008, Joe L. Dudley, Sr. & Eunice Dudley led Dudley Products Company to a significant level of sales. The company has been listed in the top 50 in Black Enterprise Magazine's Top 100 Black Owned Businesses. Throughout his tenure, Dudley Cosmetology University in Kernersville, NC and 4 strategically located schools in the Dudley Beauty School System (DBSS) were created. Through dedication, hard work and persistence, Joe L. Dudley, Sr. has indeed become the role model his mother always knew he could be. Joe L. Dudley, Sr. is much more than just a successful entrepreneur. He is known nationally and internationally as an inspirational speaker and humanitarian who spends much of his time identifying needs and giving back to the community and mankind. In 2009, Joe L. Dudley, Sr. & Eunice Dudley were featured in a national movie, Good Hair, a Chris Rock documentary about the hair care industry.

Transition to Second Generation Leadership
Over the past 40 years through dedication, hard work and persistence, she has helped take the DudleyQ+ Brand from very humble beginnings to a respected and world reknowned position in the Beauty Industry.

In June 2008, Joe & Eunice Dudley restructured the Dudley conglomerate and turned over all day to day responsibilities over to their daughter, Ursula Dudley Oglesby who began Dudley Beauty Corp, LLC.

Recipient of Numerous Awards
He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the following:

President George Bush's 467th Point of Light Award for Dudley Fellows and Ladies Program
The Direct Selling Association (DSA) Vision For Tomorrow Award (Dudley Fellows & Ladies Program)
Maya Angelou Tribute To Achievement Award
Inc. Magazine's North Carolina Master Entrepreneur Award
2005 Trumpet Award Winner
Inducted into The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame (Business/Industry)
Elected to The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
Inducted into the DSA Hall of Fame
Author of Walking By Faith, I AM, I CAN, & I WILL
Joe Dudley, Sr. discusses his successful principle-centered and highly effective entrepreneurial recipe. It features 10 basic principles. A few of these principles are listed below.

  • Change Your Attitude to Change Your Life
  • Accept Challenge in Faith
  • Don’t Add Loss to Loss
  • Make a Difference in the World

His philosophy, actions, beliefs, successes and failures are presented to reveal his secrets to success. In straightforward, easily understood prose, Dudley uses his own life story to show you how to walk by faith and make your dreams come true.

To purchase Walking By Faith, I AM, I CAN, & I WILL, click on the link below.

Source: http://www.dudleyq.com/joedudley.html

Monday, June 29, 2015


CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kenwood Academy's valedictorian, Arianna Alexander, wants to go to college to learn about business. As it turns out, she has a number of options.

"It was a lot to take in. I received emails, letters. It was just like, 'Come here, come here!' They were bombarding me with all this information," Arianna said.

Arianna hails from Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. She graduated with a 5.1 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

She was accepted to 26 universities, including six Ivy League schools. Her scholarship offers total more than $3 million.

"I feel like it means I can afford college and I don't have to worry about it. I feel like that's an issue for a lot of people my age," Arianna said.

Her father encouraged her, after another Kenwood student was offered more than $1 million in scholarships a few years ago.

"I planted the seed in Arianna's mind that you can do the same thing. So when the process got started and a million was achieved, let's go for two. I said let's go for three and she did it," said Pierre Alexander, Arianna's father.

Arianna is the baby of the family. She has three older siblings.

"It was a big blessing, because I've already put three through college. Now I don't have to worry too much about her," Pierre said.

Arianna has also picked a school, thanks to Paul Brush, one of her teachers. She plans to attend University of Pennsylvania.

"He said, 'Do you know about the Wharton School of Business?' I said, 'I have no idea what you're talking about,'" Arianna said.

"As teachers, we have a big moment to play with the lives that we have in our classrooms," Brush said.

Her family has also influenced her. Arianna recounted her dad's words: "Work hard, pray on it, and don't give up. No matter what happens, you did your best."

"My wife and I have always stressed to her, if you do your best, you will be the best. So we try to make sure she upholds to that," Pierre said.

"So as long as you work hard, I feel like there is always a way for you," Arianna said.

After all, there is still more to achieve besides high school.

"When she graduates from Penn, that will be a second goal. We expect bigger and better things for her," he said.

Monday, June 1, 2015

National Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA)

BDPA is an international organization with a diverse membership of professionals and students at all levels in the fields of information technology, computer science and related S.T.E.M fields. Members are actively engaged in serving the community through outreach and charting the future of the IT industry.

Our Successes:

  • BDPA co-founder Earl Pace is inducted into the CompTIA IT Hall of Fame. More..
  • BDPA is celebrating its 40th year anniversary in 2015 location: Washington, DC More...
  • BDPA is the largest professional technology organization for Blacks/ African Americans and other minorities in the United States.
  • BDPA has grown to 45 chapters across the United States, which provides a safe environment for minorities in IT to network with other IT professionals, gain exclusive boardroom leadership experience at the local chapter & national levels, and strengthening the skills necessary to advancing in their respective IT careers.
  • BDPA has become a critical pipeline of diverse talent for employers across all industries requiring qualified Information Technology professionals in the United States. 
  • BDPA trains 800 to 1200 high school students across the nation every year in computer programming and web development; BDPA has trained more students to write code than any other non-profit organization in the United States since 1986; period.
  • BDPA has an awesome scholarship program which is generously supported through sponsorships, and offers over $100,000 annually in cash awards to high school and college students.
  • BDPA amasses the most significant accumulation of minority IT professionals in the United States at its annual National Technology Conference.

Our History

Founded as the Black Data Processing Associates in 1975 by Earl Pace and David Wimberly (Photo not available), BDPA was created to bring underrepresented minorities together who were working in the information technology and computer science field for the purpose of professional development and academic enrichment.

Our Mission

BDPA is a global member focused technology organization that delivers programs and services for the professional well-being of its stakeholders.

Our Vision

Be a powerful advocate for our stakeholders' interests within the global technology industry.

BDPA Strategic Priorities

1. Operational Cleanup – Fiscally sound practices and improved productivity.
2. Transformational Change – Organizationally aligned for significant membership growth.
3. Value Proposition – A premier provider of programs and service for all stakeholders.

What Does BDPA Offer?
Since 1975, BDPA has been a champion for the next generation of IT leadership. As an organization of highly respected Information and Technology professionals BDPA offers a unique opportunity to connect with others to share knowledge amongst a community of peers through:

Annual National BDPA Technology Conference - For the past 35 years, BDPA Conferences have provided opportunities for innovators to get the knowledge, access, and resources that are critical to stay on top. Click here to see a list of past National BDPA Conferences.

Local Chapter Events - With over 40 chapters nationwide, IT professionals are able to meet face to face and network.

Continuing Education & Professional Development (Events) - Cutting edge technologies and certifications. Webinars and articles that speak to best practices and the latest trends in Information technology. Online tools and publications: Professional Publications, Job Board, Diversity/Careers Magazine, bdpatoday and BDPA iRadio.

Academic Scholarships and Mentoring - For students and professionals Scholarships made available through the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF). BETF is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity.

Career Opportunities - As a member you have access to the latest job announcements, have your resume seen by recruiters as a part of our member database. Connections are made at every BDPA Conference and online. Attend the Career Fair Expo and meet representatives from sponsoring corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and graduate schools, to learn about the latest technologies and career options in the STEM fields. And much more!

Corporate Sponsorship Opportunities - BDPA's Corporate Sponsorship Program develops formal alliances with corporate America that enables us to succeed in our mission. We collaborate with our corporate partners in four key areas:

Our recruiting resources reach all levels of a national pool of qualified information technology professionals to support your efforts to maintain a diverse workforce. Employers click here to post a job.

Our career development services enhance the technical and professional skills of your current and future minority IT professionals to accelerate their value to your company. Click here to learn about our prestigious Corporate Eplison and Best Companies for Blacks in Technology Award Programs.

Community Outreach:
We foster partnerships with our sponsors to build their recognition within the community through activities that help close the digital divide, and increase community proficiency using technology.

Supplier Diversity:
We provide networking opportunities to share expertise and creating business opportunities between our sponsors and BDPA's entrepreneur members.

The BDPA Corporate Sponsorship Program offers corporations an opportunity to partner with BDPA to meet corporate goals and objectives for recruiting, employee development, and philanthropic endeavors. Please click here for more information on corporate sponsorship opportunities.

Community Outreach - National BDPA Student Programs - Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES) & National High School Computer Competitions (HSCC) and Youth Technology Camp (YTC) - African American students are only awarded three percent of all Computer Science & Engineering related degrees. The BDPA HSCC program is standing in that gap and has become a pipeline for future Computer Science & Engineering students. Designed to introduce Middle School and High School Students to concepts of Information Technology and Business Acumen. Students will have the opportunity to participate in training sessions on compete on a national level for scholarships. Please click here to read HSCC student testimonials. Professionals who love to give back to their communities by volunteering their time can be recognized via the Presidents Volunteer Service Awards.

Opportunities for leadership - Be a part of the leadership team shaping the future of the organization.
Social Network Communities - BDPA has a Social Networking Community of over 70,000+ IT industry connections.

Join BDPA!
Be part of a national movement and make a difference in the lives of African American information technology professionals as we work together to create the changes needed for diverse work environments and supportive communities.

So the next time someone asks, Where are the Blacks in Information Technology? Where are the Blacks In Technology? Where are Information Technology Thought Leaders? Where are the Blacks In STEM? Where are the Black Digital Leaders of the future? Tell them they are all in BDPA!

Advantages of BDPA Membership
Learn More About Membership
Read Our Privacy Statement

BDPA National Headquarters:

9500 Arena Drive
Suite 106
Largo, Maryland 20774
Office Number (301) 584-3135
Office Fax (301) 560-8300

Source: http://www.bdpa.org/

Friday, May 1, 2015

9-Year-Old Nigerian Becomes World’s Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional

Nigeria has come on the global scene in the information communication technology sector, as 9-year-old Jomiloju Tunde-Oladipo joined the community of achievers when he became one of the world’s youngest 2013 certified Microsoft Office specialists for Office Word 2010.

Jomiloju, a primary 6 pupil of Role Model School, owned by DayStar Christian Centre, Oregun, Ikeja Lagos, broke the record created in 2012 by 10-year-old JSS1 student, Seyi-Ojo Anjolaoluwa, who was adjudged the youngest Nigerian and one of the youngest people in the world to have become a Microsoft certified professional.

Jomiloju took the July 2013 examination while in primary 5, after passing all the preparatory stages leading to the final examinations following intense teachings in school and trainings he received from United Global Resources Ltd, an accredited ICT training firm.

Odion Oyakhire, the center manager in charge of the school noted that his firm, “encourages pupils to learn ICT and get certified.”

Oyakhire explained that his firm coordinates the certification examinations for several schools and was proud to associate with Jomiloju and Role Model School on this feat. He said that the certification examination is an online, real-time test.

Before setting this new record in Nigeria for the certification examination, Jomiloju led his school to glory in June 2013, when they won an ICT quiz competition with 15 participating school in Lagos. The competition was put together by United Global Resources.

The examination report showed Jomiloju scored 769 points, 69 points higher than the required 700 to be recognized as a Microsoft Office Specialist.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Meet Jasmine: She Graduated High School With 3 College Degrees, Has Won Civic Award

The town of Flint, Michigan is home to an amazing young woman. At just 19 years of age Jasmine Cofield has accomplished more than many do in an entire lifetime. She graduated from high school last year but before she was handed her diploma she already had three college degrees under her belt. She is currently a senior in Central Michigan University. This year she was named the 2015 Newman Civic Fellow.

The award is handed out to college students that demonstrate empathy for others. They show that they are capable of finding real-world solutions to problems that affect the communities around them and make sure that they help the community by implementing those solutions. This year Cofield will be traveling with Global Bridges to Honduras to help volunteer in clinics that provide much needed services to the communities that are struggling with health issues. She has been all over the country with a program called the Alternative Break program which is sponsored by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center. With this group Cofield has gone to help rebuild homes that were destroyed in the South by Hurricane Katrina. She has helped in facilities that treat HIV/AIDS patients in Atlanta by helping to restore the facilities to a more modern place.

While attending Mott Middle College, which is where she completed all of her high school courses, Cofield also studied at Mott Community College. The Middle College is a transitional program that integrates high school classes and college classes. The students end up graduating from the Middle College with a high school diploma and 15 college credits. Cofield ended up with three Associate degrees from Mott Community College before she even got her diploma. She kept a 4.0 average all through college and ended high school with a 3.97 GPA. She did so well in her schooling that she earned enough money in scholarships to cover her Bachelor’s degree studies at Central Michigan University. She is studying to become a Physician’s Assistant in Neuroscience.

Source: http://www.theblackhomeschool.com/2015/04/07/meet-jasmine-she-graduated-high-school-with-3-college-degrees-has-won-civic-award/

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Compton's Mayor Aja Brown Promises 'the Best Is Yet to Come'

Inside a new community center in Compton, California, music can be heard. It’s the very first song played at a new after-school program designed to keep children safe and sound in the city that’s come to be associated with gangs and violence.

But Compton is undergoing a change.

Juan Ruiz, an instructor, said he developed the program with the help of the city’s mayor, Aja Brown.

Now, the 32-year-old Brown, a Democrat, has injected more than just music into the city since she was elected in 2013.

Horse Program Keeps Hartford Youth Out of Trouble
Brown’s own grandmother was murdered in a home invasion in the city before Brown was born.

“I was able to see the impact it had on my entire family and especially my mother,” she said.

After she graduated from the University of Southern California with honors, Brown worked behind the scenes in urban planning for 10 years before being elected as mayor in 2012. She beat her opponents -- the incumbent and a former mayor -- handily, and hit the ground running.

In city development meetings, Brown said, she’s usually the only woman.

Her greatest lesson comes from her own mother, who taught her to “be committed and to make sacrifices and ... put something in front of you, do something bigger than yourself,” she said.

Brown ended cronyism by making city fiscal business contract decisions and choices and invoices fully transparent and public. And that's not all.

“Our crime rate is down 25 percent," she said. "Our unemployment rate [is] down 5 percent, and we have nearly 1,000 new jobs coming into the community.”

Today, the sound of urban renewal -- jackhammers and construction -- can be heard throughout the city.

“We’re actually bringing major, major retail to the city of Compton, as we speak,” Brown said.

Ruiz credited Brown with the progress in the city.

“We are proud of our mayor,” he said, adding that Brown is loved and is changing lives.

“You can feel it,” he said.

Brown shares his enthusiasm.

“I’m proud of the work that we’ve been able to accomplish here, and I’m excited because I know that the best is yet to come,” she said.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/comptons-mayor-aja-brown-promises-best/story?id=28597609

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Virginia Calculator: Thomas Fuller, African ”Slave” And Mathematical Genius

Thomas Fuller, familiarly known as the Virginia Calculator, was a native of Africa. At the age of fourteen he was stolen, and sold into slavery in Virginia, where he found himself the property of a planter residing about four miles from Alexandria. He did not understand the art of reading or writing, but by a marvellous faculty was able to perform the most difficult calculations.

Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, Penn., in a letter addressed to a gentleman residing in Manchester, Eng., says that hearing of the phenomenal mathematical powers of “Negro Tom,” he, in company with other gentlemen passing through Virginia, sent for him. One of the gentlemen asked him how many seconds a man of seventy years, some odd months, weeks, and days, had lived, he gave the exact number in a minute and a half. The gentleman took a pen, and after some figuring told Tom he must be mistaken, as the number was too great. “‘Top, massa!” exclaimed Tom, “you hab left out de leap-years!” And sure enough, on including the leap-years in the calculation, the number given by Tom was correct.

“He was visited by William Hartshorn and Samuel Coates,” says Mr. Needles, “of this city (Philadelphia), and gave correct answers to all their questions such as, How many seconds there are in a year and a half? In two minutes he answered 47,304,000. How many seconds in seventy years, seventeen days, twelve hours? In one minute and a half, 2,110,500,800.”

That he was a prodigy, no one will question. He was the wonder of the age. The following appeared in several newspapers at the time of his death.

Present day thinking is that Fuller learned to calculate in Africa before he was brought to the United States as a slave. Supporting evidence for this comes from a passage written by Thomas Clarkson in 1788 describing the purchase of African slaves:

It is astonishing with what facility the African brokers reckon up the exchange of European goods for slaves. One of these brokers has ten slaves to sell , and for each of these he demands ten different articles. He reduces them immediately by the head to bars, coppers, ounces… and immediately strikes the balance. The European, on the other hand, takes his pen, and with great deliberation, and with all the advantage of arithmetic and letters, begin to estimate also. He is so unfortunate, as to make a mistake: but he no sooner errs, than he is detected by this man of inferior capacity, whom he can neither deceive in the name or quality of his goods, nor in the balance of his account.

Despite Fuller’s calculating abilities he was never taught to read or write and again this is evidence that he did not learn to calculate while in the United States. When someone who had witnessed his calculating abilities remarked that it was a pity he had not been educated, Fuller replied: ‘It is best I got no learning; for many learned men be great fools.’


- See more at: http://blackthen.com/the-virginia-calculator-thomas-fuller-african-slave-and-mathematical-genius/#sthash.cBK7X9be.dpuf

Sunday, March 1, 2015

James Jones Tells His Story

I grew up homeless for the first 15 years of my life. I was in and out of homeless shelters, in and out of motels. My mother and father were heavy drug users. Actually, a lot of my family members were heavy drug users. It was a rough childhood. Nobody knew how hard my situation was but me.
I moved in with my grandmother when I was going into high school. By moving in with her, I was able to go to the same high school for all four years, able to have the same friends, have the same home to live in, have some stability for the first time in my whole life.

My main inspiration and my main hunger to be successful was my mom. When I was real young, I want to say maybe four or five years old, I told my mom that I was going to make it to the NFL and buy her a home. I had a vision and a belief that no matter what happened, no matter what anybody said, I was going to make it to the NFL. And that was my main drive. I’m not saying I was the perfect kid and I didn’t get in trouble, but there were a lot times when my friends were going to do drugs or going to sell this or that, and my mom’s face would flash in my head. That would remind me to go the other way or go to the gym. I was extremely motivated to change the whole situation.

Like I say all the time, I’ve played with a lot of guys who may have had more talent than me, but weren’t willing to sacrifice the things that I sacrificed to make it. I had a hunger that I was not going to be denied. And any situation that presented itself that was going to take me off of that course, well, then I went the other way. I told my buddies I’m not drinking, I’m not smoking, I’m not going with you all to do this or that. I stood by that and was truly determined to change my situation. And I did go and buy my mom that home after my rookie year in the league.

I truly think that growing up homeless helps you appreciate the little things a lot more, helps you be grateful for so many things because you grew up wanting what everyone else had. Even now, when I walk into the stadium in the mornings and see that we have an all-you-can-eat breakfast every day, I still can’t believe it. And sometimes I hear guys complaining that they serve the same thing all the time, and in my head, I’m like, ‘Man, what in the world?! This is a blessing. I don’t care if I have to eat a waffle everyday, at least I have something to eat.’

Just like with my kids now. They have their own room, their own bed. They are able to do swim class, play sports and do the things they want to do, everything I didn’t have the opportunity to do when I was growing up. I just appreciate those things a lot more because I’m able to see what my kids have. It’s humbling, but I’m very grateful for all the little things. I think that’s one of the main things I took from being homeless; just appreciate the little things and be humble because at any time it all could be taken away from you.

Today, I do so much in the homeless community because I was once one of them. I understand all of the things that they are struggling with, all of the things that they are going through. When I was living in a homeless shelter, there were so many days that I woke up and wanted to quit or woke up and wanted to do something bad. But, when you have a positive influence in your life or can see someone who has been there – been homeless – doing something positive with their life now…I think it helps people.

To me, it’s more important to touch somebody’s life than to catch touchdowns on the football field. When I first got drafted, when I first made it to the National Football League, I told my wife that I wanted to start a foundation to give back because you can throw for as many yards as you want to throw for, catch as many touchdowns as you want to catch, but at the end of the day, I felt that God put me in this position to help and change other people’s lives. And I felt like if I wasn’t doing that, I wasn’t truly using all of the ability God gave me. I felt like he blessed me to make it to the NFL to do such things as help the homeless shelters because that’s the way I grew up. It means a lot more to me to change somebody’s life, to change a little kid’s life, than to go on the football field and win games or catch 1,000 touchdowns. It means more when I see little kids light up and when I’m able to change their lives and inspire them with my story.

Since I’ve been in the NFL, I’ve been giving back to homeless shelters. But the last couple years I really started telling my story and doing more. My Foundation, Love Jones 4 Kids, throws a fundraiser for the local homeless shelter every year called Toast to Success, where we have a live auction and a wine tasting. When I played for the Packers, the event benefitted a couple of the homeless shelters there. And now that I’m out here, back near where I grew up, we are working with the homeless shelters in this area. It’s not the same shelter I was once in (they actually built a new one that’s way nicer than the one I stayed in), but it’s around the same area. We’re also setting up another event now to donate to a homeless shelter in Oakland. My wife (who runs the Foundation) is getting that set up; to raise some money and donate a meal to them. I have another initiative called 89 Wishes, where we grant 89 wishes to kids who write in to our Foundation. You know, 89 is a lucky number because that’s my football number.

Like I told my wife when we first started the Foundation, I never wanted to have one of these organizations where we just dish out money, but don’t have any relationships with the people. So I go to the shelters as much as I can to talk to the people. My family and I donate a meal to the families there whenever we get a chance. I make sure that my family knows that we are truly blessed. My mother and father help too. We were once in this position, so the least we can do is give back and try to change some people’s lives.

When I serve a meal at a shelter, I sit them all down and talk to them, let them know I’ve sat in the same seats they are sitting in. I tell them not to make any excuses and don’t give up because it can’t get worse than this. Keep striving to do better. Any time that I can get out there and share my story, feed the homeless, talk to them, help give them a positive word and some inspiration that ‘yeah, it’s hard right now, but keep on fighting, it’s going to get better’…that’s what I try to do.

And I really like to have a relationship with the kids. That’s why everything I do through the Foundation is free. When I was in Green Bay, I threw football camps and I always host one in California. Everything is free. And I do it that way because when I was little, my mom didn’t have the money to pay for me to participate in any camps or anything like that. I try to reach out to the kids that way.

Sometimes people ask what type of mark I want to leave on the Bay Area homeless community. To be honest with you, if you were to walk into a homeless shelter and ask the people there, ‘What does James mean to you?’, I would want them to say that he loves us, he cares about us. It’s beyond football or money or any of that. It’s about changing their lives. I just want them to know I care.
Long story short, that is my life story.

Going through all of this is what I truly believe made me the man I am today, and I always feel like God put me in that situation because he felt like I could handle it. It’s a touchy subject in my heart, which is why I try to go out there and inspire people who are homeless today to keep fighting and do great things.

Source: http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/James-Jones-Tells-His-Story/64f47263-0ca9-450b-b6aa-102ac56badc9

Jones also runs a foundation with his wife. It’s called “Love Jones 4 kids”


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rise of a gangsta nerd: Fellows Friday with Hakeem Oluseyi

Astrophysicist, educator, and humanitarian Hakeem Oluseyi trounced race and class to become an important contributor to computer technology and space research. Back on Earth, he’s doing all he can to give young and underfunded scientists a chance to reach for the stars.
Yours is an extraordinary story. You grew up impoverished — moving frequently from city to city across the South — and then became a successful astrophysicist and science educator and advocate. Are you tired of telling the story of your background?

Well, it is an important part of what I’m doing now. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Right now I have a research group of over 20 students and very few of them are from similar a background to myself — but I have a special place in my heart for people like me.

Childhood was just rough, difficult. I felt like I was running the gauntlet. I had a mother who worked all the time, always gone. And I just felt like there was always a predator at my heels. She’d leave two dollars for me to go buy myself dinner, and I’d walk to the corner store and buy a can of pork and beans.

My response to this was: I wanted to be bad. I wanted to outgangster the next gangster. KRS-One, the rapper, Boogie Down Productions? He has a song I love that goes, “Where I’m from, if you’re soft you’re lost, cuz to stay on course means to roll with force.” And that’s how I was. You’ve got to intimidate this next dude before he intimidates you. Otherwise you’re going to be the victim. So by the time I was a teenager I was carrying a gun, I was involved in all these crazy things. I carried protection because I lived in a violent world. But the other side of this story is that I was also really interested in physics — it’s what I did for fun. In my own communities, I was seen as some kind of weirdo nerd kind of guy. A cool nerd. A gangsta nerd.

As I became a young man, my mother saw the handwriting on the wall, and one of the things she did was she moved me out of the inner city. Because we’d lived in New Orleans, Houston, inner city areas. She finally moved me to rural Mississippi where my dad was from.

The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, La Serena, Chile. Photo: Patrick Champney
And there, at Tougaloo College, you had a breakthrough.

Yes.These three grad students from MIT and Harvard came to Tougaloo, where I was one of two physics students in 1986. They were all black physics students from the Cambridge area – and each of them thought they were the only one! They came to realize that kids from certain communities just have no idea that physics as a career exists. They decided they’d start the National Council of Black Physics Students, to help the most down-and-out kids in the country. So where did they go? Mississippi. They showed up on our campus.

Because of them, I ended up meeting recruiters from Stanford University that ended up accepting me to Stanford for grad school. In all of Stanford’s history, at that time, there were only two black professors in all of the six schools of natural sciences and mathematics. One was my PhD advisor, Art Walker, who was also the PhD advisor of Sally Ride. Just being in his presence showed me a different model of how I could be.

But when I first got there, I was still doing the same things. Right next door was East Palo Alto, which in that particular year was the murder capital of the country for per capita murders. I was involved in drugs and these sorts of things. And I was hanging out in the hood. It was all bad. I had this one particularly horrific night. I told Art what I had been up to, and Art looks at me and he goes, “Well, you’re not going to do these things anymore, are you?”

Why would you do that? You were at Stanford.

When I got to Stanford I quickly realized that class was more important than race in this particular environment. And I pretty much felt rejected and dejected. I did face some initial hostility. Not only that, I was faced with a type of failure that I had never seen before academically. My first reaction was: “Let me go home. Let me go to where it’s familiar to me.” The first thing you’re going to do is run to the ghetto. If you’re from the hood and you end up in a Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, you don’t want to be around those people.

Those are the “bad” guys, where you’re from. And they treat you like you’re the bad guy in their world. I remember, after my first week — I was married at the time — I came home and said to my wife: “You know, I really cannot see myself being around these people every day, but I can see myself being out on the corner every day. That’s a big problem.” How can I become what it is I want to become, when on the one hand the image that I have of myself is inappropriate, and on the other hand, the way that society is made up is something that scares me? Can I fit in? And it’s tough. I kind of struggle with it even to this day, but not to that extent, of course. And it never happens among international groups of people.

But in the end, Art’s support changed it for me. It was like two different lives. I ended up changing my name from James Edward Plummer to reflect how my life had changed so drastically. I wanted my middle name to reflect how I am. So my middle name is Muata and it means “He seeks the truth.” I wanted my first name to reflect what I want to become. My first name Hakeem means “wisdom.” And my last name is from the West African Yoruba people, and it means “God has done this.”

Speaking at Specialist South Africa tour.
When did you finally realize you do, in fact, fit into your role in life?

I was in graduate school — the year was 1995 or 1996 — and a colleague and I had to go to NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, to calibrate the data that we had taken in a rocket flight. I’m such a scientist groupie nerd. When you get into a field and you’re becoming an expert, you’ve got to be current and you’ve got to read all the papers. You quickly begin to recognize who the big players are. My attitude in those days was: “OK, you’re a big player, Ron Moore, I’m going to get every paper Ron Moore ever wrote and I’m going to read them.” And that’s what I went about doing. So I got to NASA and whose names are on all the doors? All these people that I idolized. And I’m just like, “Wow, wow, wow!”

And so we’re hanging out in the hallway, and these three scientists walk up. And the local graduate student introduces us. We all start talking physics. And it just amazed me that, here I was, having a conversation at an equal level with these guys about physics, about the stuff we were doing. And I remember the other graduate students really couldn’t even participate because they hadn’t been putting in the work that I had. They’d always treated me like I was this intellectual welfare case, really being mean to me about it.

After the scientists left, they looked at me and said, “You’ve been reading, huh?” And it was at that moment that I realized, “Whoa, could it be true?” Soon I started publishing my research papers, and I realized I was able to solve problems that people all over the world had failed to solve. At this point I really opened up. After graduating from Stanford, I moved on to a position at a large company in Silicon Valley, and I realized that all of this was for me. I could be a physicist! I could do these things. And so I wanted to experience more. In my first year in Silicon Valley, I ended up getting eight patents.

What did you invent?

I worked on computer chip manufacture and creating a new generation of transistors. First, we had to come up with processes to construct transistors with new materials. The main problem was developing an “overetch” process that worked with the new materials. Imagine you have a table and on that table you have a sheet of granite and on that granite you have a sheet of butter. And now I want to carve out a shape in that butter without damaging the layer of granite underneath. That was the old process of etching polysilicon on top of silicon dioxide. It’s really easy to remove the butter from the granite. When we move to the low-resistivity metal, the metal was tungsten, one of the hardest substances that exists. And so imagine trying to remove a layer of granite on top of a layer of Jell-O without damaging the Jell-O. This process is known as the over-etch. In order for the process to be commercially viable, you have to remove the granite at a rate 100 times faster than you remove the Jello — whatever process you use. Everybody in the world was stuck at 30 to one. I started working on the problem and in a month’s time I had achieved infinity to one. That resulted in three or four patents.

And then another problem is that when silicon chips were being made, every time there’s a step in the processing where test wafers are tested at the end of every step, and are thrown away — a huge waste of money and resources. Same with testing chips. So the question was, How can we ensure that everything was done right without using test wafers and chips? My company had hired a man named Moshe Sarfaty who had the idea that if you monitor the light emitted from the plasmas that are used in many of the steps for making computer chips, you can probably tell what’s going on in the chip. They got nowhere after a couple of years of working with this idea, but then I came in with my background in spectroscopy. Very quickly, I solved all their problems. And that resulted in four or five more patents.

Based on these patents and the work I did in industry, chances are my technology is in your computer chips, wherever you are!

So why aren’t you a millionaire?

Well, at the time I had over a half-million dollars in stock options that were growing. And then the Silicon Valley crash happened in 2001. By that time, I had a bad taste in my mouth for industry. First of all it was all male, and then when the dotcom bubble burst, the way people turned on each other was very distasteful to me. And while I wanted to talk about the universe, everybody wanted to follow stocks all day and talk about silicon wafers.

So I felt very unfulfilled, and I missed the interaction with students. I walked away and took an $80,000-a-year pay cut to come back to academics. And I joined the Supernova Cosmology Project — the group that discovered dark energy. It was the very first research in physics that I did when I was between undergraduate and graduate school, and I worked in Saul Perlmutter’s group. I decided, “Okay, let me go back and work with these guys.” I wanted to do cosmology. So I went and actually worked on technology for a new satellite and new observatories. And now that technology is being deployed. I was not the inventor of the technology — I just helped to develop it at a critical time early on. Again, I made a good name for myself research-wise.

This composite image shows a superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 160,000 light years from Earth.

Composite image showing a superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 160,000 light years from Earth. Click to see larger size. Photo: NASA
What is your primary field of study now?

I ultimately decided I would do cosmology. Now, this was a humungous risk: I had established myself as a name in the technology side of science, and now I was just going to completely leave that behind and do something different. I was interested in big data, statistics, and this problem of mapping out the galaxy. Basically, if you map the locations and the motions and the compositions of, say, a hundred million stars, you can trace and disentangle the individual substructures that came together to build up our galaxy. And based on the answer that you get, that actually impacts how our universe came into existence. So the idea here is that you observe the nearby universe and that tells you something about the universe as a whole.

These types of studies are called near-field cosmology. My first big paper on this topic came in May or April of this year in Astronomical Journal. And that instantaneously made me one of the world’s leading experts on astrostatistics. Recently I went to North Carolina to a meeting of the Who’s Who of cosmology and these big data problems — exoplanets, near-field cosmology. It was really crazy for me because I still see myself as that kid from Mississippi. I’m always in these rooms with the top super scientists in the world, and I just never get used to it. Because I’m still a groupie. For me, hanging out with these people is like hanging out with Brad Pitt for a regular person.

Now I’m heavy into computation and statistics; I do astronomical observing. My colleagues and I just won a proposal to use the four-meter telescope in Chile — the dark energy camera. I also run small telescopes. We have one Florida, one in Chile, and one in Arizona that we use that are about one meter in diameter. I’ve also had to invent a couple of things in order to continue moving forward. I’ve never been more excited about my research.

At TEDGlobal 2012, you talked about leading the One Telescope project, which aims to supply each nation in the world with at least one research-grade telescope. Why is this project so important?

Let me tell you something: If we put a hundred of these telescopes on Earth, we are not revolutionizing the developing world, we are revolutionizing Earth. This would be unprecedented. And given my life experience, I recognize the impact of culture and identity on the choices that a person makes. If you put a telescope in a country and you create an educational outreach program around it, you’re going to get the kid here and there who says, “Hey, I want to be involved in this,” and they’ll spend their entire summer doing observations and taking data and analyzing data.

There is a company in Germany that can deliver fully robotic, incredibly robust observatories for way less than anyone else can do it, only $200,000. This is for an entire observatory. In today’s era of science and astrophysics, exoplanets are being discovered left and right. It takes only a tiny telescope to do it. And so anyone with a research-grade telescope can, for relatively little money, be participating in the discovery and characterization of exoplanets.

SANSA telescope

One of South Africa National Space Agency’s radio dishes for satellite tracking.
How do I know this? Because I’m a part of an exoplanet discovery collaboration. The camera that does it is called the KELT Survey. It has two really tiny little cameras, one in South Africa and one in Arizona. And when they see what looks like it might be an exoplanet candidate, it has to be followed up with other telescopes. And the telescopes that follow up range in aperture from 25cm to 60cm for the most part — the vast majority of them. This is the size of backyard telescope like many people own. Now, all the people who participate are planet discoverers. So can you imagine when people in Zambia or Mangaia in the Cook Islands can say, “Hey, we discovered this planet with our telescope!” And these kids are doing this sort of thing. Just as my self-image was modified when I saw that I could do science, theirs will be too.

But it’s not just about encouraging young scientists in developing countries. Right now we’re in the era of survey science. In my collaboration, there are certain objects that we discover that are anomalous. They don’t make sense. We discovered them in this survey data. And they have to be followed up with telescopes to find out what exactly they are. The fact is, there are not enough telescopes in the world currently to do this follow up. And there are also very special events that happen. Recently, the nearest supernova in several decades happened. Imagine suddenly you could turn a hundred telescopes around the world to this event. You can also follow it constantly. The sun will never set on a worldwide network of telescopes. There’s so much that you can do by just having this ability.

I think ultimately all it takes is finding people who actually want to pursue these goals of educational and scientific development and connecting us with funders and enabling science. Let’s combine everybody into a single intellectual community, and let’s do really amazing science.

Are you still doing outreach and development in Africa?

Yes. In a week I leave to go to South Africa to do a lecture tour at schools. The Systemic Education and Extramural Development Support (SEEDS) program is an initiative of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to strengthen education in South Africa. I’ll also visit Soweto where I received two grants from the US State Department to form a hands-on astronomy data education grant in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg. Then I’ll visit Cape Town visiting schools for education outreach.

When I look at my colleagues in the developing world, their problem is not that they’re ignorant. Their problem is that they’re broke, and their governments are broke, and can’t spend money on certain things because there’s a problem of development and poverty. Spending money on basic science can look like a waste in these circumstances. But human beings, we’re more than just survival. We are artists, we’re scientists… There’s a story of Africa, a perception that it’s a place without science or scientists. And it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy when you don’t enable them to do real science.

Hakeem Oluseyi at TEDGlobal 2012

Speaking at Fellows Talks, TEDGlobal 2012. Photo: Ryan Lash
How has the experience of the TED Fellowship had an impact on you?

It was the first time that I really felt on an emotional level that someone appreciated and recognized my outreach work — something the science community doesn’t always value. That really means a lot to me. And it was at TED that I saw the value in openness, in open source. I was inspired there to start a second project — combining people into a global intellectual community through openness. So every time we decide, “OK, let’s take some guys and start a new astronomy program at the University of Nairobi,” for example, where will they get lectures from? Where will they get the proprietary knowledge that everybody needs to have in order to actually do the science? I’ve broken into that knowledge circle, and I’m planning to give it away. That was completely inspired by TED.

Is there anything else you want to do at all besides astrophysics?

I would very much like to do work in the media. I love to tell stories, entertain, educate and inspire. I definitely want to do that. I’d love to write books.

Will we someday see you on television as a presenter about astrophysics?

It doesn’t have to be astrophysics. It could be science of any sort. I know a lot of science stories no one else knows, for the most part. For example, I gave a talk at this Unitarian Universalist church on Sunday, on humanity’s evolving understanding of the universe. But the way I tell it is very different from “You had the Greeks — fast-forward 1,400 years and you get Copernicus.” I know I’m the kind of science storyteller that no one ever sees.

Life chose me for what wonderful things I’m doing. I never set out to be Mister Inspiring Speaker or Mister Science Communicator. But often, after giving talks and doing these sorts of things, people come up and say, “Oh, man. You’re so inspiring.” Or “I thought I was stupid until I met you.” In other words, I help people see you can be who you are, and just through love and hard work you can make it in the field. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. Impacting people’s lives in that way is something that gives me a lot of fulfillment. There really isn’t anyone like me who’s delivering this message.

Source: http://blog.ted.com/2012/10/05/rise-of-a-gangsta-nerd-fellows-friday-with-hakeem-oluseyi/

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Okoya couldn't find a doll that looked like his niece, so he decided to do something about it. Now his dolls are outselling Barbie.

Queens of Africa, the black doll line that's outselling Barbie in Nigeria, started as a personal mission seven years ago. Taofick Okoya was frustrated that he couldn't find a black doll on the market for his niece. "I happen to be the kind of person that doesn't enjoy complaining and criticizing without taking any action," the 43-year-old businessman tells ELLE.com. So he researched making a doll that Nigerian girls could identify with: one with their skin color and traditional African fashion. 

"It became a frontline project for me due to the resistance the dolls received because of their color and outfits from most children and distributors," he explains. "I spent about two years campaigning on the importance and benefits of dolls in the African likeness. During that process, I realized greater social issues such as low self esteem, which led to the passion to make a change in the coming generation. It's been a tough journey but one I have enjoyed."

Okoya created two lines of dolls, Queens of Africa (which come with three outfits, four accessories, and cost 1,300 to 3,500 naira, or $6.75 to $18.18) and Naija Princesses (which come with two outfits, two accessories, and cost 500-1,000 naira, or $2.60 to $5.19). Each doll represents a different African tribe (Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa).

Okoya sells 6,000 to 9,000 dolls a month, Reuters reports—10 to 15 percent of Nigeria's small but growing toy market, by Okoya's estimation. The dolls have quite a few fans. Okoya shares one's testimony: "Usually the black dolls are so dark, I don't buy them because they look nothing like me. I think that if they had maybe a better variety of black dolls with different colors like yours, that would be a lot better. No two black people are the same color: Some have darker and some have lighter pigments. Like many other African Americans, I have never found a doll that really fits me 'till now." 

And the dolls' Facebook page consistently gets new comments. "You can be sure my future daughter will be playing with those," one wrote on it. "Thank you for your hard work and keep on doing it, you are helping our girls in being more confident and proud of themselves."

Queens of Africa's reach is global thanks to the web, where Okoya accepts online orders for the dolls. He says after Nigeria, the greatest demand is from America, Brazil, Europe, the Ivory Coast, and South Africa. But despite this, he doesn't feel the brand has made it yet. It won't "until it reaches every child of African decent all over the world and is a symbol of pride by making them appreciate who they are as an African." 

ELLE.com talked with Okoya about the evolution of the line, the importance of its message to little girls (including his own), and how it's changing the toy industry.


How do you feel about the dolls outselling Barbie? 

I don't believe Mattel sees the Nigerian market as a priority, yet their product has great influence on the psyche of the children here and affirms certain values contrary to our society. My mission is to make the Queens of Africa [what Barbie isn't to Africans] a symbol of hope, trust, and confidence by promoting African history, culture, and fashion. 

The dolls are meant to "subconsciously promote African heritage," according to your mission statement. Why is this message so important? 

I have a daughter, Azeezah, whom I named one of the dolls after. As her father, I wanted the best for her and to teach her to become a confident, responsible adult. I quickly realized that my direct influence on her development was about 40 percent and the remaining 60 percent was from her surroundings, i.e., her toys, TV, friends, etc. [These] were mostly subliminal and had a longer lasting impact on her [that] was somewhat out of my control. Even though we live in Nigeria, there was a lot of Western influence, which might have been responsible for her wishing she was white. It made me aware that I needed to make her proud and happy being a black African girl, and not limit it to her alone as this was a common trend amongst the younger generation. The Queens of Africa became a platform to achieve this. 

There are other toys out there like Lammily and GoldieBlox that aim to send a healthier messages about body image and career aspirations to little girls. How does Queens of Africa add to that dialogue? 
The power of toys and play tools cannot be underestimated. It could be a greater influencer than we realize. I have had to tweak the looks of the dolls to get acceptance as we needed the sales to sustain the project. As our sales and acceptance grow, we are becoming more confident, and this will reflect in our next and subsequent collection. 


Right. You told Reuters to start, you have to sell slim dolls and hope to make larger-bodied ones once the brand is built.  But does this make you feel like you're sending a harmful message in any way? 
What is really frustrating is the generalization that Africans all have to look a certain way or be a certain color. That is stereotyping. There are slim Africans, plus-size Africans, dark Africans, fair skinned Africans, flat-nose Africans, and pointed-nose Africans. We will do our best to represent as much of the diversity of Africans but surely not all at once. Some people have critiqued us quite harshly from an ignorant standpoint, forgetting we are relatively quite young. The responsibility to represent Africa in a doll or product is not an easy task. Our diversity is one of our greatest attributes. 

Where do you hope to take the line next? 

I am looking to go global! We are hoping to release songs with positive lyrics, a TV series with encouraging storylines, and [to] get the dolls on all major shelves around the world! I have been told that our products will not make mainline stores in the States as it will be seen as a specialist product. As such, [it] will be limited to specialist stores in certain areas. I am looking to prove them wrong. 

Source: http://www.elle.com/culture/art-design/q-and-a/a26422/taofick-okoya-on-queens-of-africa-dolls/

Saturday, January 31, 2015

20 Things You May Not Know About Africa But Really Should

The World’s First Planned City Was in Egypt

An Egyptian city called Kahun was the world’s first planned city. Plans for the city divided it into two sections. While wealthier residents lived on one side of the city, the other part housed “ordinary people” who did not have as much wealth. The city also featured a system of stone gutters that ran through the center of every street.

Drainage system

Ancient Egyptians Mastered Sewage and Drainage Systems

When most people think of ancient cities of any kind, they automatically eliminate the luxuries we are used to today. While ancient Egypt certainly didn’t have complex sewage systems that people are accustomed to now, this ancient civilization had already developed an efficient sewage and drainage system that served as evidence of the value they placed on cleanliness. An American urban planner noted the “great importance” that ancient Egyptians placed on cleanliness, especially in a city known as Amarna. “Toilets and sewers were in use to dispose waste,” the planner noted. “Soap was made for washing the body. Perfumer and essences were popular against body odor. A solution of natron was used to keep insects from houses…. Amarna may have been the first planned ‘garden city.’” According to historians, ancient Egyptians were “pretty adept with drainage construction” by 2500 B.C.

African People Were Making Steel for More than 1,500 Years

Evidence was discovered in 1978 that suggests East Africans had already mastered making steel. Assistant professor of anthropology Peter Schmidt and professor of engineering Donald H. Avery found that Africans had produced carbon steel in preheated forced draft furnaces as long as 2,000 years ago. The method was “technologically more sophisticated than any developed in Europe until the mid-nineteenth century.”

Africans Were the First to Organize Fishing Expeditions

It is believed that African people were the first to organize fishing expeditions at least 90,000 years ago. A variety of harpoon points have been discovered in Katanda, Congo, which academics believe points to the existence of an early fishing-based culture.

The Oldest Table of Prime Numbers Was Discovered in Africa

In 1960, Jean de Heinzelin de Braucourt discovered the Ishango Bone in Lake Edward. The small lake borders Congo and Uganda and is believed to be the oldest table of prime numbers to ever be discovered.

Ethiopia Was Recognized as One of the World’s Greatest Empires

One modern scholar wrote of the city of Ethiopia and claimed that, “In the first half of the first millennium C.E., [Ethiopia] was ranked as one of the world’s greatest empires.” A Persian cleric of the third century also noted that Ethiopia was the third most important state in the world behind Persia and Rome.

Egyptians Didn’t Just Build Beautiful Pyramids, They Built Mansions as Well

Many people don’t think of lavish mansions when they imagine ancient Egypt, but it is believed that these master craftsmen were building mansions long before anyone else. Egyptian mansions were discovered in Kahun. These large homes had more than 70 rooms and a variety of different quarters for masters, women, servants and more.
 building in stone

West Africans Were Some of the First People to Build in Stone

In the Tichitt-Walata region of Mauritania, archaeologists have discovered “large stone masonry villages” that date back to at least 1100 B.C. These villages consisted of somewhat circular compounds that were connected through a series of “well-defined” streets.

Old Checks Have Been Found in Ancient Ghana

That’s right. Checks actually aren’t as new of an invention as many people would want to believe. There is evidence to suggest that the people of ancient Ghana may have used checks. An Arab geographer, Ibn Haukal, was visiting a region of ancient Ghana in 951. Haukal wrote an account of an old check he discovered for more than 40,000 golden dinars that was written to a merchant in the city of Audoghast.

Some African Civilizations Used Glass Windows

There is evidence that some African civilizations were already using glass windows. One academic wrote of a residence belonging to a Ghanaian Emperor in 1116 and described the home as a “well-built castle, thoroughly fortified, decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having glass windows.” Other excavations at the Malian City of Gao also revealed evidence of glass windows.

Gold Mining Took Place on a Massive Scale All Across Africa

West Africans were mining for gold all throughout history, and one modern writer said that early African people actually managed to mine up to 3,500 tons of gold. According to one modern writer, this is worth a staggering “$30 billion in today’s market.” South Africans also saw great achievements in gold mining. Another modern writer noted that, “The estimated amount of gold ore mined from the entire region by the ancients was staggering, exceeding 43 million tons. The ore yielded nearly 700 tons of pure gold, which today would be valued at over $7.5 billion.”

Mali in the 14th Century Was a Very Urbanized Civilization

Italian art and architecture scholar Sergio Domian noted the incredible work that has been discovered in Mali, explaining that Mali had “laid the foundation” for an urban civilization.” “At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated,” Domian wrote.

West African Scholars of the 16th Century Were Known to Have Thousands of Books

West African scholars had incredible numbers of books in the 16th century. In fact, they often had so many books that a library of a little over 1,000 books was considered child’s play. West African scholar Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying he had the smallest library of all his friends and colleagues with “only 1600 volumes.”

Benin Art of the Middle Ages Was of Exceptional Quality

An official of the Berlin Museum für Völkerkunde said most pieces of Benin art were “equal to the very finest examples of European casting technique … Technically, these bronzes represent the very highest possible achievement.”

The People of Ancient African Civilizations Had Frequently Built Impressive Walled Cities

Long before the age of technology and the development of mechanics that helped many civilizations create their walled cities, the people of Nigeria had already erected an impressive walled city. The Nigerian City of Eredo was built around the ninth century and was surrounded by a 100-mile-long, 70-foot-high wall. The wall encompassed 400 square miles in its interior. Scholars have pointed to multiple examples of ancient walled cities that were discovered throughout Africa.

The Capital City of Kanem-Bornu Was One of the Largest Cities in the 17th Century World

The capital city of Kanem-Bornu, Ngazargamu, was one of the largest cities of its time. According to an architectural scholar, the city housed a “quarter of a million people” and had a system of roughly 660 streets. Academics also believe the wide, unbending streets throughout the city are evidence of careful planning that took place in order to create the large city.
At its most stable period, it was said that any woman wearing gold could safely walk the streets unaccompanied, according to newworldencyclopedia.com. This was at a time when few women ventured out alone in London or in Paris for fear of attack.

The City of Carthage Was Opulent and Impressive

By the third century B.C., the city of Carthage grew to be an impressive collection of lavish homes and had a staggering population. The city off the coast of Tunisia is believed to have housed at least 700,000 people and contained streets lined with towering homes that were, on average, six stories high.

Africans Were Already Studying the Stars and Creating a Lunar Calendar

Ruins of a 300 B.C. astronomical observatory in Kenya serve as a reminder of just how advanced ancient Egyptians were when it came to studying the stars and other heavenly bodies. It is believed that Africans were already mapping movements of stars such as Triangulum, Aldebaran, Bellatrix, Central Orion and the moon. They were believed to be creating a lunar calendar of 354 days.

Ancient Africans Were Highly Advanced in the Field of Medicine

According to the Edinburgh Medical Journal in 1884, surgeons in ancient Africa were routinely completing effective autopsies and Caesarean operations. The surgeons already had a strong understanding of antiseptics and anesthetics and had a variety of natural remedies for illnesses and other medical conditions.

Ancient Egyptians Had Water Purifiers

A ruined mosque in the Kenyan city of Gedi revealed evidence of early water purifiers. The mosque held what appeared to be a water purifier made of limestone that the ancient Egyptians used for recycling water.