True Pioneers

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s topic is “African American Work beyond Menial Slave Labor, Sharecropping, and Industrial Occupations” by Robert Weems.

The story of work within the African American experience is often characterized by enslavement, discrimination, and menial and dangerous industrial jobs. Robert Weems’ research, however, exposes a broader picture of the role of African Americans in the nation’s economy.

During slavery, some individuals were trained to manage agri-business operations. Later, following Emancipation when most African Americans were engaged in sharecropping, a significant minority of blacks became landowners and entrepreneurs.

Robert Weems

Robert Weems

Today, assumptions about race and work continue to impact our recent history. “Most people immediately think of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in terms of the historical evolution of computer technology,” said Weems, a business history professor at Wichita State University. “This presentation, among other things, identifies a far less well-known African American whose work with IBM also makes him a true pioneer in this area.”

Bring Robert Weems’ “African American Work beyond Menial Slave Labor, Sharecropping, and Industrial Occupations” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.