Furthering Innovation & Equity

The Honorable Tony Miller, Deputy Education Secretary, accepts my gift of Cakewalk after his speech at Innovation & Equity in the historic Lincoln Theatre.
I get the chance to further discuss the fourth wave of black innovation as keynoter for the Innovation Generation/Minority Media and Telecommunications Coalition Congressional Internet Policy Forum this afternoon in the Rayburn House Office Building at 3 p.m.
The first day of the MMTC Broadband and Social Justice Summit at the Westin Grand in Georgetown brought together FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, Anna Gomez, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and Reps. Cliff Stearns, R-FL and Bobby Rush, D-IL to confirm their awareness that access to broadband is a civil rights imperative.
Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council; Steve Largent, President of CTIA-The Wireless Association, Jane Mago, executive vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters, Walter McCormick, president of US Telecom, James Assey, executive vice president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and James Winston, executive director of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters closed the day with a panel on the same issues.
However, when I asked the last question of whether their trade associations and members would support venture capital for black innovators, the panel was speechless.
So my task today is to make the case why it is not only in their business interest, but also the broader public interest to support the fourth wave of black innovation.
The biggest reason is that they’ve benefited richly from the previous three waves.
Yet as a group of us discussed in a brainstorming session late into the evening, black employment at Silicon Valley companies is free falling.
Santa Clara County is not among the top 30 counties in the country for employment of black computer workers; and is sixth in the state of California.
As Winston noted, black employment tends to rise with black ownership, so the issue of venture capital access speaks to the employment issue.
We hit that point last week during INNOVATION & EQUITY: Spurring Manufacturing Through Innovation in Black Communities and will continue with the Catapult Innovation Competition through the spring.