According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, the White House has recently launched the Initiative on Educational Excellence for African American Films. The first installment of the screening and discussion series drew roughly 100 students from the DC-Maryland area.
Robin Hauser Reynolds, Director of Code: Debugging the Gender Gap; Dr. Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls; Dr. Kamau Bobb, Program Director and Directorate for Computer and Information Science & Engineering at the National Science Foundation; and Chiamaka Okoroha of Microsoft served as panelists.
The site released the following statement about the initiative: “AfAmEdFilms will highlight films and multimedia that disrupt negative stereotypes and depict positive and compelling stories of African American students, families, and communities striving for academic excellence. AfAmEdFilms will also encourage active engagement and showcase resources to facilitate opportunities for caring and concerned adults to support the learning and development of African Americans.”
Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, the featured film for the event, discussed racial and gender disparities in STEM programs and careers and provided a platform for a solutions-oriented discussion of ways to increase access and opportunity to the STEM pipeline for Black youth.
Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, was on-hand for the event and told TNJ.com, “The film, by Robin Hauser, highlighted some of the challenges and advances of women in STEM and actually included some of our girls from Black Girls Code. The initiative itself provided a great opportunity to bring together a large group of Black scholars and expose them to the opportunities available in the tech industry via the stories that were told in the film. For me, it was a great opportunity to share my experiences in the tech field and emphasize to youth that the future is in their hands and that this is a great time for them to be alive and take advantage of the moment.”
During the panel discussion, David Johns, Initiative Executive Director, mentioned plans to collaborate with the National Science Foundation to ensure that students have access to Computer Science, Algebra, and other “gateway courses” required for success in STEM.
This latest initiative is one of several that President Barack Obama has launched for African American youth. Last year, he debuted My Brother’s Keeper Alliance aimed at helping to close the opportunity gap for young men of color.
Other films scheduled to be shown are:
October: He Named Me Malala
The Souls of Black Girls
December: The Rule
January: The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
April: The E-Word: A Documentary on the Ebonics Debate
May: MPAA: American Promise
June: The Homestretch