A Self Taught Black Engineer Built A Central News Hub For The Black Community


Source | Blavity

Less than 50 years ago, news in the African American community mostly came from places like CNN, Fox News, Or NBC, who we, as a people felt, genuinely biased against our race. If a black person was in the news, it was safe to assume that they had been accused of committing some sort of crime and those who were achieving in places other than a football or basketball field went unrecognized.

Black pioneers in the industry like Ebony, Essence, and Black Enterprise were the first media outlets that finally depicted us in a positive light. Blacks started seeing wealth, elegance, intelligence and achievement from people who look like them, I believe this transformed a generation. If you fast forward to today, the internet has become king and is accessible to most. There are a growing number of websites today that cover whats happening in the black community, including Blavity. These sites have further helped to put the spotlight on black people who are innovating, building, and doing some good in their respective fields. This has helped give us a tremendous leap in staying informed, but there has been one lingering problem.

Before today, if you wanted to see only news exclusively for your community you would have to choose between one outlet or the other, or do what some might call “site- hopping”. While this can be effective for some, you might miss out on some very important information if you aren’t exposed to all the possible media outlets.

Eric Townsend, a 25-year-old Dallas father of 2, thinks he has a solution to this problem. He is an avid reader and loves to educate himself with the news. After getting tired of “site-hopping” to stay in the know, he decided that it was time that the black community had a central news hub. He found that there were others on Facebook and Twitter with this same problem who have spoken their truth about knowing where to get the best news and information from.

I need someone to give me some good outlets for Black news and analysis.— Not Your Average…. (@Urbanbrotha87) July 8, 2017

This why Black news outlets are important so we can frame the narrative!— AMAZEMODICA (@AmazeModica) June 30, 2017

But instead of just simply putting up a website, he wanted to make sure this product was relevant with the “Mobile” generation and millennials.

Enter BLVCK, the mobile app that grabs news from 8 different prominent websites to create a portal of black news in a mobile app,  currently only available for iPhone. Eric says that he wants to see how much growth this app can get and has major plans for expansion if he can continue to grow interest in the mobile app. The reasoning behind making it a mobile app, he says, stems from trying to push the younger black community to get more informed about what’s happening around them. “Change starts with them”, Eric states.

The app is easy to navigate, with the home screen showing the top stories from each of the media outlet and automatically updates every time the app is opened. You can share and read articles directly from the app, as well as view the respective individual media platforms. Eric says that getting one touch access to the news in our community is essential because the easier it is to access, the more people will be willing to take a glance.

Eric is a pretty busy guy, he works full time for a local Dallas startup and owns a Fitness studio (www.studiosevenfit.com) with his wife Jes. Somehow, he still finds time to hack together free mobile apps that he feels people need or want in the black community. He has developed 5 other apps but says that this is the most impactful. “I want a place where people can go, share, learn, educate, and communicate in a positive and impactful environment. BLVCK, to me, is just the starting point for this.”, says Eric.

You can download the BLVCK app today on the Apple App Store, Eric plans to get an Android version out early next year

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