On History And Technology
At first, it seemed a bit daunting that the annual technology report would be combined with the second of our two Black History Month issues. After thinking about it for awhile, it became clear to me that we needed to look back to the contributions Black men and women have been making in technology since the founding of America. Like most of you, I was familiar with the names Elijah McCoy, Garrett Morgan and Granville T. Woods. I knew these men had gained recognition for their accomplishments as inventors. What I learned in researching the cover story was that the full legacy of Black inventors represents a largely uncharted subject in American history. During Black History Month, we are likely to read an article or listen to a “moments in Black History” radio spot that mentions the accomplishments of a few well-known inventors, such as McCoy. But can we say that someone has ever recommended to us a book that chronicles the accomplishments of slave inventors? Probably not. In this issue, I have taken a stab at writing about the legacy of Black inventors and the need for scholarly scrutiny of that legacy. I hope you find “Learning From the Past” informative and engaging (see pg. 28). We also felt that profiling prominent Black “information technologists” in higher education to be in keeping with the spirit of Black History Month. As leaders and innovators in their respective disciplines, the 10 women and men featured in this issue are making history of their own. The “cyber-stars” profiles represent a continuation of the special effort we began with the “The Academy’s New Cast” issue of Jan. 3, 2002, to introduce to you to Black leaders in American higher education. Phaedra Brotherton’s feature on the U.S. Army’s online education initiative, the question-and-answer session with Brian Mueller of the University of Phoenix Online in Techtalk, and Kendra Hamilton’s Faculty Club story on a software program designed by a Hampton University professor to help students keep track of their course grades all combine to give this issue a comprehensive focus on information technology’s transformative role in higher education. Our technology report is rounded out with Joan Morgan’s Career Consultants as it tackles the gender gap in information technology and a Last Word column by the esteemed Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., on “filling the pipeline with technology workers.” In addition, more Black History Month features include Eleanor Lee Yates’ article on the recently released documentary on the life of Nobel Peace Prize-winning scholar-diplomat Dr. Ralph Bunche and a roundup description of Black History month celebrations at campuses from around the nation. We look forward to getting your letters and e-mails on this unique Black History Month/annual technology report special issue.
Ronald RoachSenior Writer
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