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Inspirational Black Leaders and Pioneers in Ed Tech

Innovations in technology have contributed to our society's advancement, but while we use these innovations often, we often don't think about the genius behind them. Here is a list of some of the many pieces of technology we utilize in our daily lives and the influential Black leaders that are responsible.


Dr. Marian Croak

A remarkable woman in more ways than one, Dr. Marian Croak is the Vice President of Engineering at Google. She holds over 200 patents, with over half of those relating to voice over internet protocol. Voice over IP is the technology that allows us to make calls over the internet, like Google Meet, and this method has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. Dr. Marian Croak also used this technology to normalize text message voting systems (like American Idol) and text-based donations to charities, which has helped charitable organizations raise significant amounts of money.


Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Jackson was the first African-American to receive a doctorate from MIT and the first to be president of a top-ranked university. Currently the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the highest-paid president of any private college, she is mostly known for inventing caller ID and call waiting. This technology has been vital in the way we are able to identify an incoming call and how we communicate with one another. Shirley Jackson also has 53 honorary doctoral degrees. Beyond impressive!


Garrett Morgan

A man of entrepreneurial talents, Garrett Morgan pioneered the path for Black inventors with his many patents. One of them included the three-way traffic light signal, which we know and use today. Garrett Morgan also patented a breathing device that later evolved into the modern gas mask. In fact, there was a terrible tunnel explosion in Cleveland that prompted Morgan and his brother to use his breathing device to save as many victims as they could. The brothers saved two citizens and recovered several bodies thanks to their ability to breathe with his invention. 


Dr. Gladys West

Dr. Gladys West is widely known for her mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth, which contributed to the efforts and transformation of GPS. The groundwork she laid in previous studies of other planets allowed Dr. West to deliver precise calculations regarding the Earth’s most accurate shape. This involved many formulas and complex algorithms that give us GPS that we heavily rely on today. 


Robin Petgrave

The Founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM), Robin Petgrave created a “living classroom” for at-risk youth in Southern Los Angeles. This is a place for children as young as eight years old to come for after school tutoring, learn new skills, and earn points to potentially hold a flying lesson. Petgrave has gone above and beyond to give back to his community and show there are resources and ways to better your circumstances. Petgrave has given countless youth in Los Angeles the opportunity to learn the way they never have before and connect on a level that instills confidence to follow their dreams.


This list of Black influential leaders in technology is endless and CTL wants to highlight as many pioneers in tech and education as possible. Stay tuned as we continue our weekly series of inspirational Black leaders and pioneers in ed tech to continue learning with us!







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