N.C. A&T, Howard and Prairie View University Leadership Tapped for SXSW Panels


EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 8, 2019) – South by Southwest (SXSW), the internationally recognized annual presentation of entertainment community festivals and technology industry events in Austin, Texas, will feature the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus @ SXSW, a four-part panel series that brings together members of Congress, industry giants and leaders of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for in-depth conversations examining the role HBCUs play in building a more diverse and inclusive tech workforce.

The day will include multiple sessions this year on diversity in technology fields, including keynote panels featuring U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, President Wayne A. I. Frederick of Howard University and Dean of Engineering Pamela Obiomon of Prairie View A&M University.

“HBCUs matter — there is no black tech without them. My colleagues and I are proud to take this message, alongside our nation’s top HBCUs, to Austin, Texas during the first-ever Bipartisan HBCU Caucus @ SXSW. HBCUs contribute nearly $15 billion annually to our economy and have provided pathways of opportunity to millions of Americans, many of whom are first generation college students. Despite being historically underfunded, HBCUs continue to produce 42% of Black engineers and 47% of Black women engineers,” said Congresswoman Adams, Founder and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus. “That is why the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus exists in Congress and it is why the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus @ SXSW is so important."

Martin will join Lyft Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Nilka Thomas, VICE News Washington, D.C., bureau chief Shawna Thomas and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams for “HBCUs: A Key to Tech Diversity” at 11 a.m., Sunday, March 10, at the JW Marriot, Salon C. Among other topics, panelists will discuss the congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus’ “Partnership Challenge,” a landmark initiative that brings together industry, government and historically black colleges and universities to craft universal best practices to recruit and retain diverse talent in tech.

“With the growth of the technology sector comes significant needs for employees with the high-quality STEM education necessary for those positions, and that has strong implications for many of our campuses,” said Martin. “The opportunities to grow mutually beneficial relationships between technology concerns and our colleges and universities is real and rapidly expanding. SXSW is an ideal opportunity for dialogue around those opportunities with the innovators and creators who make this such a special annual event.”

The panel discussion is a part of the Tech Industry & Enterprise Track of the SXSW conference and is one of four panels organized as an outgrowth of the HBCU Bipartisan Caucus Diversity in Tech Summit, hosted by Rep. Adams last August at North Carolina A&T. That event drew more than 200 representatives of the tech industry, state and national government and HBCU campuses to Greensboro for two days of discussions, planning and networking.

Frederick will join Apple, Inc. Global External Relations Manager Lyn Stanfield, and U.S. Congressman Will Hurd in a panel titled, “Course Curriculum 101: HBCUs & Emerging Technologies” held at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 10, at the JW Marriott, Salon C. As noted above, HBCUs provide pathways of opportunity for millions of first-generation college students and contribute more than $15 billion annually to the U.S. economy. As a result, the health and wellness of these institutions must be a national priority. The panel will discuss the steps needed to ensure HBCUs are equipped and positioned to provide course curriculum for emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, quantum computing and cybersecurity.

“Howard University is uniquely positioned to provide our students with academic and hands-on work experiences that educate, train and prepare them for today’s competitive workforce. Through corporate partnerships, innovative research grants and internships, they gain valuable experiences that translate to skills employers are seeking. I look forward to sharing these ideas during SXSW,” said Frederick.

The Tech Industry & Enterprise Track focuses on the forward-thinking innovation of today and what is projected to be trending tomorrow. Executives and leaders from diverse industries are set to discuss the evolving landscape of technology driven services.