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The digital divide is a longstanding issue that has disproportionately impacted the Black community and the National Urban League is on a mission to change the narrative. The nonprofit organization recently unveiled an initiative designed to eliminate the socio-economic barriers that stand in the way of equitable accessibility in the digital space.

The Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion—which was inspired by the legacy of 19th century African American inventor Lewis Howard Latimer who was instrumental in the creation of telephones and electric lighting—was created to use technology as a vessel to cultivate a more inclusive society. Through the initiative, the nonprofit would work to ensure broadband networks are accessible everywhere within the U.S. and lead projects centered on aligning underserved communities with resources that will help individuals thrive within the digital economy.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has so starkly illuminated, broadband is a necessity, not a nicety,’ Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, said in a statement. “This plan addresses ‘the three A’s’ – availability, adoption, and access. Availability means the service is extended to communities of color. Adoption means communities of color can afford to connect to it. Access means the industry employs a diverse workforce and provides business opportunities to communities of color. Millions of American homes, businesses and other enterprises cannot fully participate in 21st-century society because there is no available broadband network.”

Initiatives like the Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion are needed as the digital divide has been exacerbated by the public health crisis. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly 52 percent of low-income broadband users say they worry about being able to afford high-speed internet connection due to financial burdens that stem from the pandemic.

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