Two Howard University alumni have taken their experience from Wall Street and created a tech space where Black people can write, curate and share their own stories.
The Pan African News Network (PANN) application, which launched one year ago, aims to tell stories from the Black perspective.
Although the idea isn’t new, co-founder Darren Harris believes it hasn’t been approached this way.
“We said we need to create a network where Black people can submit stories that happens in their neighborhood and than we can profile them,” Harris said. “It’s user-generated content or crowd source content for the Black community. You download our app, create a profile then you can curate whatever stories you want to tell.”
Harris, a 12-year veteran at Goldman Sachs in New York City, said his and partner Quincy Ewell’s inspiration for the app came from the state of Black representation in mainstream media.
“We were inspired because of what happens in the news with Black people,” Harris said. “We feel like the news doesn’t focus on what happens in our community. We feel like if something major happens, it makes a headline, it drops out and we never know what happened.”
Harris and Ewell, who both graduated from Howard University in 2005, came back for last weekend’s homecoming festivities, but also to promote and reconnect with their resources at the institution they credit for their success.
“We love to come to Howard’s homecoming because it’s a fulfilling experience,” Harris said. “We went here and we love this place. It’s also a great foundation for us, the university supports us in what we do.
“I’m an alum in the School of Business and they’ve helped me out a lot with getting interns, with marketing, the School of Communications,” he said. “Jeff Lee from WHUT, he’s one of our advisers and he also helped create another network in the ’90s that focused on this demographic.”
Ewell, a Los Angeles-based business attorney, said the app provides access to exclusive content featuring Black folks that doesn’t get much light in the media.
“On the app, you’re going to find things you won’t have on any other platform — exclusive Black stories and exclusive interviews like Rick Ross, who performed at homecoming this year,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to control our story to make sure the messaging and the communication being broadcasted about Black folks is accurate. I think the best way to do that is to remove ourselves from majority platforms and having our own content that we control.”