Howard University hosts its fifth annual Black Blockchain Summit. The Black Blockchain Summit is a conference that brings people together to learn and connect with other Black people about blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency space. Student organization DAO labs (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) also started its first hackathon and pitch competition at the summit.
From September 22 to September 24, the fifth annual Black Blockchain Summit kicked off at the Howard University Interdisciplinary Research Building on Georgia Avenue with hundreds of people in attendance. The summit includes a series of fireside chats, panelists and speakers of diverse backgrounds discussing topics related to blockchain technology, investment, software development, research, policy, education, and how the black and African diaspora are using them to socially, economically and environmentally surroundings.
According to Harvard Business Review, “…a blockchain is an open distributed ledger that efficiently records transactions between two parties in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to automatically trigger transactions.” Blockchain technology is known for its role in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Blockchain is known for maintaining a secure and decentralized record of transactions.
First launched in 2018, the Black Blockchain Summit was organized by entrepreneur, mechanical engineer and Howard alumnus Sinclair Skinner. This year’s summit also included a memorial service in honor of founder, STEM advocate and Howard alumnus Dr. Howard. Gary L. Harris’ contribution to creating spaces for Black innovators and students in these spaces.
Many panelists included companies such as Gemini, Galaxy, Citi, Bithub.Africa, the Blockchain Association, the Black Women in Blockchain Council, and numerous Black-owned startups.
Skinner emphasized the importance of engaging and educating the black community on these topics for liberation and ownership.
“There are 1.5 billion black people on the planet. That’s a lot of people, and if we can liberate them, we might help liberate everyone else,” Skinner said.
“Literally, we think it’s important to use all the tools that we have at our disposal for this liberation, and we think one of those tools is blockchain,” he said. “This particular technology is super scalable, giving us the opportunity to take advantage of it and free up as much of our workforce as possible.”
Speaking on the panel, Cleave Mesidor, executive director of the Blockchain Foundation, said: “We have black people from all over the country, from Ohio…El Paso, from all over the world, but we also have a delegation from The African Continent,” she focused on cryptocurrency for six years and spoke about the importance of black and brown people being included in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.
“Black and Latino people are using blockchain technology to solve problems, to address inequality. For us, it’s always been about ownership and empowerment. It’s about creating opportunity, and that’s what this conference is about.”
In addition to the summit, Howard student organization HU DAO Labs hosted its inaugural Yardhack and Pitch competition on September 7th at 7pm. September 23 to 2:24. The purpose of the competition is to join a system called Whive.io, an open-source peer-to-peer blockchain protocol, by whatever means they choose.
Team 3 was the winner of the first YardHack by HU DAO Labs, who launched a product called NAC (Notarized Art Co-op) consisting of Junior Micheal Scholis, Junior Annia Matthews and Junior Olivia Washington.
When asked about the inspiration and how the team developed the concept in a limited time frame, Michael Scholis, a 21-year-old junior interdisciplinary studies major from Monterey, California, a team member, explained how the idea came to fruition at work of.
“Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this since last spring at our event called Future Proof. So, it’s been going on all summer,” says Scolles.
“So this is a platform for us, a platform for us to speak in a comfortable, open space and to be open to our idea. We are interested in continuing the idea through consultation and further investment,” he said. .
Team members Olivia Washington and Annia Matthews agree and say they will take this experience with them as they continue their journey with the HU DAO lab.
“Personally, I was like, ‘I have nothing to do with this, I don’t belong in this field’…it opened my eyes to the possibilities of a DAO,” said Olivia Washington, a junior marketing major. “You don’t have to know anything about Web3, you learned about it yesterday and you still have the opportunity to work in this area, which is really encouraging and I feel great.
said Araj Shah, a 19-year-old computer science freshman from Nepal. His team, Team 2, finished second in the competition.
“The feedback has been very good. I mean, we worked really hard and we were looking forward to finishing first, but that’s okay,” Shah said. “I think we’ve done a really good job and I’m very proud of our team. As well as what we’ve done, we look forward to doing more.”
Another member of Group 2, a 20-year-old computer science freshman from Rahual Rai, Nepal, agreed with Shah about the positive experiences they had had.
“At the end of the day, it’s a friendship we’ve built along the way,” Shah said.
HU DAO Labs is working hard to ensure interaction with members and make sure everyone is aware of opportunities to attend events similar to this year’s Black Blockchain Summit. The summit, which has been held on the Howard campus several times in the past, will be held again next year at Howard University at an undetermined date.
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee