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Originally founded after the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, the company’s full potential and vision hadn’t been actualized until March 2021, when City Startup Labs acquired BlkTechCLT. Since then, they’ve created an ecosystem of Black-founded & led high-tech startups to increase access to capital and build businesses, along with assisting employers locate Black tech talent.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Director of BlkTech Interactive, Rashaan Peek, about what to expect this week.
Fresh off a trip to Ghana where Chris Brown’s new Breezy album was heavy in her rotation, Peek spoke about the importance of connecting Black techies in our backyards as well as those across the Atlantic. “During the Afrofuturism Fest, we’re featuring an international collaboration panel, we call it the ‘Co-lab,’ said Peek. “It’s full of entrepreneurs from the continent and diaspora to talk about some of the projects they’re working on and similar challenges we all face.”
A fan of Marvel movies and the upcoming Thor, Peek hammers home the importance of traveling. “Please travel places that are Black so we can support the economies the same way we would Paris or London.” She continued, “the best way to really impact your communities and your own family is to travel. You have to be out and see what other struggles are and how you can be a world citizen.”
An entrepreneur herself, Peek worked with Henry Rock, founder and CEO of City Startup Labs (CSL) previously and the two wanted to expand the impact of Blacks in technology. Since then, they’ve served over 2,000+ Black entrepreneurs and technologists in the Charlotte area, according to the company website.
Speaking on the inclusivity of Afrofuturism Fest, Peek reassures, “This is for everybody. The same way you would go to a Greek Fest or celebrate Cinco de Mayo, come on out. A lot of people think just because you put ‘Black’ in your name that they can’t participate. No, come on out, be an ally. We’re trying to remove those barriers and at the same time create freedom for us.”
On Thursday, their hybrid Libations & Liberation event will talk all things Telecom, Cybersecurity & System Engineering with CEO & Inventor Chasity Wright as guests mix and mingle sipping cocktails of their choice.
On Friday, the Family Fun Fest will include a game truck, food truck, African Drummers and dancers, stiltwalkers, face painting and a performance by Charlotte’s own recently signed Roc Nation artist Reuben Vincent and many more.
On Saturday, the (un)Conference is intentionally aimed at catering to those in attendance, whether in-person or virtual, to allow for open dialogue in an exchange of information with fellow attendees, industry experts and keynote speakers.
Peek explains, “The approach [for festival attendees] has always been going someplace and someone speaks at you, the UnConference concept allows participants to discuss an experience or problem and also provide a solution. It’s all about what you think. Come in with your ideas, feel open to share.”