IBM executives joined ninth-grade students from KIPP-DC College Preparatory and leaders from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and on June 15 to celebrate IBM’s 100th year anniversary.

At the celebration, IMB and museum leaders worked with KIPP-DC College Preparatory students as they developed personal stories of family heritage and culture to be submitted in the museum’s National Memory Book exhibit.

During classroom discussions with IMB and museum executives, students learned the importance of continuing their education and giving back to the community as they discussed future education and career goals.

“What’s important is that you continue to learn, and as you continue to learn, you can make contributions to the community,’ said IBM Senior Vice President Rod Adkins.

Following the classroom discussions, students gathered for a pep-rally, where Adkins presented information on IBM and spoke on the significance of science, technology, engineering, and math education among minority students.

“America’s shifting demographics make it especially important that we encourage minority students to pursue science and engineering education,” said Adkins. “Today, 43 percent of school-age children are African American, Latino or Native American. Yet, of more than 70,000 U.S. engineering bachelor’s degrees in 2009, less than 13 percent were awarded to under-represented minorities, according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. If the U.S. is to remain competitive in a global economy, we will need to reconcile these opposing trends.”

According to Adkins, in order for there to be more minority engineers and scientists working for companies like IBM, the African-American community needs to encourage science, technology, engineering, and math education among young people. Adkins said it is “vital for our future.”

Also presenting at the pep-rally was Lonnie Bunch, founder and director of the NMAAHC. Bunch shared background on the museum and provided the students with a virtual tour of the museum.

Bunch also thanked the KIPP-DC students for adding their personal stories to the National Memory Book exhibit, explaining to them the importance of family history.

“History gives us the foundation from which everything is built on,” said Bunch. “It gives us the tools to live our lives.”

Adkins echoed Bunch on the importance of history. “The past allows us to appreciate the present and get excited about the future,” said Adkins.

Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the NMAAHC, was very pleased that IBM and the museum could join forces to encourage and inspire the KIPP-DC students during IBM’s centennial celebration.

“We congratulate Sam Palmisano and IBM on 100 years of innovation. From the moment that Sam and Lonnie Bunch met their shared vision of a 21st century museum catalyzed the creative idea to open the NMAAHC on the web, thus making manifest that the Museum exists even before its building,” said Conwill in a statement. “Rod Adkins exemplified that sprit of imagination and collaboration in the event at Kipp Academy. We at NMAAHC were honored to join him and team IBM in an inspiring event for the most important audience in the world — our children and future leaders.”


Ashley Crawford

Special to the AFRO