This being Black History Month, there’s been a lot of celebration of the contributions of people of color to various areas of society. We in communications can point to some notable contributions, as well. Perhaps the most relevant are those of Jesse Russell, whose work in early wireless technology helped push mobility into the digital age with what was then referred to as “2G” digital technology.
Mr. Russell was the first African American hired by AT&T Bell Laboratories directly from a Historically Black College and University (Tennessee State University). He went on to earn a masters from Stanford, was promoted at Bell Laboratories to Vice President of Advanced Communications Technologies, then Vice President of Advanced Wireless Technology Laboratory and Chief Wireless Architect. He has several patents to his name, among them the patent for a mobile data telephone.
Our nation has achieved its position in the world through the innovation and determination of its people. The more we can clear the paths for every smart American to step up and add to that history of achievement, the more we'll progress.
While we celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans like Mr. Russell, let’s remember that we can (and will, I’m certain) do more to ensure every American has an opportunity to contribute and earn their place in our history books.