The Essence Festival of Culture is a weekend-long celebration dedicated to Black people. On July 2, the company BLK Men in Tech was present at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention, which is where the festival was being held.
Kham Ward, the founder of BLK Men in Tech, spoke with rolling out about the Essence festival and his company.
Tell us about BLK Men in Tech.
We’re a nonprofit based in the South Florida area. We’re about uplifting not just Black men, but Black people as a whole. I just happen to be a Black male, so I kind of cater to my thought process about Black men in the tech space. Just so you know, Black people as a whole need help in the tech space. We focus on scholarships, and students have gotten them through us in the past two years.
We focus on getting individuals jobs, as 85 men and women have gotten jobs through us. We also focus on connecting through our conference. Last year, our conference had 8,500 people in a virtual space, and it was headlined by 2 Chainz and Tristan Walker. I want to show people there’s no monolithic experience on how to be a Black. We are all different people, and we shouldn’t be coupled together.
Why has technology become so important in today’s age?
Tech is the future, and it is our entire ecosystem. What we need to know is that Black people don’t have to necessarily be engineers to be in tech, that’s a myth. I’m a chief diversity officer. I’m in tech, but I’m really not in tech. We want to expose people to understand that there are multiple ways to get into the tech space and multiple ways to get to the bag, and there’s a way for you. It’s about access, and the ability to be open and honest about your journey and exposure. Education and exposure are the two key indicators of where the future will go. Along with other careers, Blacks can dominate the tech space if we have access and exposure.
Where can people find you?
They can find us @blkmenintech on all social media platforms. Please look out for our conference on October 13-16 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. It’s going to be an awesome four-day experience. It’s going to be packed with a lot of great speakers. We have to show the world that we can show up in a way that’s going to move the next generation of our youth.