With the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival kicking off over the weekend, thousands have swarmed the town of Austin, Texas to partake of the music and film festival.
Over the years, SXSW has expanded its reach into other arenas such as its interactive festival which puts an emphasis on technology. This year, a new focus on the emergence of young Black professionals in that space was present thanks in part to the efforts of MVMT50.
NewsOne spoke with MVMT50’s Media Partnership Director Mary Pryor, who detailed MVMT50’s presence at SXSW and the several panels they helped to organize. Ms. Pryor highlighted the need for Blacks in the varied realm of technology to use their increasing visibility to redefine the conversation and attract talent from all fields in our candid chat.
Pryor explained that MVMT50’s founder Donnell Creech began his work at SXSW years ago, introducing a “Blacks In Tech” presence to the interactive festival portion. Now re-branded as MVMT50, the team has grown with five additional members, including Pryor, and have ramped up efforts since then.
“MVMT50 wants to put emphasis and lead the charge on the next 50 years on dialing up the conversation around African-Americans, Africans and Blacks all around the world in regards to tech,” shared Pryor.
She adds, “The tech field for us is so marginalized, it’s so small. It’s not been well-received, or rather, discussed. We have a whole generation of young people and adults that don’t know that the opportunities in tech are available and really vibrant. You might hear a story or two about a major celebrity getting involved in tech but it’s not well publicized.”
Pryor also stated that parents have a duty as well in encouraging the curiosity of their children in getting involved with tech, which MVMT50 hopes to build the necessary bridge for those families to cross. Noting once more that the opportunities are boundless, Pryor says there has to be ways to connect with these burgeoning young minds.
“The paths of tech are not just one-sided, there’s design and technical and digital interests in these young minds and we have to provide eye opening experiences for them. We need to turn that curiosity into a habit and then into a real interest from the start,” said Pryor.
Pryor says that MVMT50 and other like-minded organizations have to step up and provide clear learning opportunities for interested Black youth and adults in a cost-effective way for everyone. She says that by aligning with corporate sponsors, donors and volunteers, MVMT50 could eventually expand to even greater levels.
“We want people getting involved in digital marketing, to be developers, to get involved in the creative industry — period. There’s so much more to do and calling it tech doesn’t nearly cover it all. We have to do a better job in educating the public on the layers that exist in the digital space, “ said Pryor.
This past weekend, MVMT50 invited guest and celebrity speakers who conducted a series of panels aimed at the audience they’re attempting to reach. Working in partnership with a variety of corporate sponsors, MVMT50 will continue to be a necessary portion of SXSW for years to come.
Learn more about MVMT50 here.
Disclosure: NewsOne’s parent company Interactive One is a sponsor of the MVMT50 events at SXSW 2014