Last weekend technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and creatives alike gathered together for the AfroTech conference.
The AfroTech event began last Thursday and continued on through Sunday. AfroTech consisted of a two-day conference of speakers, panels and workshops that were centered around design, startups and entrepreneurs. Tickets for the conference were priced at $475 for general admission and $280 for college student entry.
AfroTech featured networking and recruiting events with companies like Microsoft and American Airlines. The conference also intergraded AfroTech with community, and entertainment engagement with organized social events throughout Oakland.
The conference focuses on educating and connecting fellow African Americans that are interested in culture, innovation and technology. AfroTech was launched in 2016 by Blavity, a tech and media company whose aim is to encourage Black millennials to push limits of culture and the status quo. Blavity’s website has reached over 7 million readers and has become one of the web‘s fastest growing media outlets.
Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO of Blavity, was moved to create the platform as she believed it was important for the Black community to have stories and messages seen by others who share the same values. AfroTech has a similar purpose as it held its fourth annual event at the Oakland Convention Center last weekend.
“It’s critical that Black people are literate in tech and we reduce the digital divide. … People who are waiting for the world to change or tech companies to get more inclusive before they go into these environments, don’t wait,” DeBaun said in a CNBC interview. “There has never been a moment where more companies are focused on increasing diversity in their workforce. If you want to make an impact at scale, get into tech.”
AfroTech kicked off the first day of social events with“LGBTQ + Happy Hour” hosted at Jack London Square, “College & HBCU Night,” and “Black Girls Code x AfroTech: The Pre-party.” On Friday, the conference began with “David E. Glover Youth Pitch Competition” and had high school students pitch their venture ideas to local tech and STEM professionals. The popular Breakfast Club co-host, Charlamagne tha God, spoke during “Fireside Chat: Building a Multifaceted Media Empire” session. Saturday’s session consisted of the AfroTech cup—“Pitch Competition Finals,” a competition where companies pitched ideas for a chance to win $10,000 as well as media coverage. The conference summed up the eventful weekend with “Black Women In Tech,” a brunch that highlighted influential Black women in tech fields.
DeBaun describes the event as one where first-time attendees will walk into this space and immediately see themselves reflected in every single person in the room. DeBaun says this type of event didn’t exist when she started her career in San Francisco in 2013.
If you happened to miss the AfroTech conference event this year in Oakland, be sure to support Blavity’s mission to creatively support Black millennials in their pursuit to change the world at the next annual conference.