U.S. history is filled with influential African Americans. Discover four pioneers who changed their communities – and our country. Plus, see how five modern innovators combine strong cultural ties and Verizon technology to empower today’s society. Hear their stories below.
“Usually when you’re breaking new ground, there’s always someone there to tell you that you can’t do it.”
Navarrow Wright is the Chief Technical Officer of Interactiveone.com, the Internet subsidiary of Radio One. In addition to being a highly sought after inspirational speaker, Navarrow is a premier expert on the convergence of technology, the Internet, mass media and social media’s power to change businesses, society and personal lives. His work in Washington, D.C., influencing policy change and national technology adoption makes him one of the nation’s leading voices in the fight to close the digital divide.
Beginning his career with a degree in Computer Science from Rider University, Navarrow developed a keen sense of emerging technology and new media.
Quickly rising through the ranks, he became CTO of Viacom’s BET Interactive, where he helped make BET.com the leading entertainment online destination for African Americans, growing the site’s audience 300% during his time there. Wright gained experience as an entrepreneur as co-founder of Globalgrind.com with hip hop icon Russell Simmons. Navarrow was also featured in the CNN documentary "Black in America 4 w/ Soledad O'Brien," where he was shown mentoring entrepreneurs as part of the first Internet accelerator focused on minority and women technology entrepreneurs.
Priding himself on showing people how technology can be an enabler to help them achieve their dreams, Navarrow recently launched the “Close the Divide Project” (http://closethedividefor.me). His vision for the initiative is to build awareness among underserved communities (minorities and women) about the opportunities that technology can provide in key areas, like education, healthcare, career growth and entrepreneurship. Navarrow’s passionate commentary on the importance of digital literacy can be found on various media outlets, such as the Huffington Post and NewsOne.
For making it his mission to be a voice for technology adoption and literacy in underserved areas, and for developing the entrepreneurial spirit in urban youth, Verizon proudly honors Navarrow Wright as a present-day innovator.
“For the rest of man’s existence, technology is going to evolve. So we can’t fear it.”
E. David Ellington is Co-Founder and President of GridSpeak Corporation, a pioneer of the online social networking world, a law grad, a world traveler, a financial expert and a political activist, just to name a few of his many accomplishments.
Born in Harlem, he was primarily raised by his mother after his father passed away at an early age. Inspired early on in life by a sailing instructor with a dual degree in Law and Business, he set himself on a similar course, fittingly tacking and jibbing his way there. He earned his undergraduate degree at Adelphi, acquired his master’s at Howard, then spent time traveling and teaching English in Japan before returning to complete a degree in Law at Georgetown.
David became exposed to the emerging world of online media while working as an entertainment lawyer in California. Fascinated by the emerging technology, he and a partner established one of the first successful online portals, Netnoir, in 1994, tailoring content specifically to the African-American audience.
In addition to maintaining an active role in the community and in non-profit organizations, David co-founded OpNet, a disadvantaged youth technology program, and was an active member of the San Francisco Jazz Organization.
Verizon honors David for his pioneering strides within our community and his continued efforts at leveling the playing field for disadvantaged youth through technology.