The Tech Innovator and Executive Producer Behind the Black History in Two minutes (or so) Podcast

Not only is Robert F. Smith the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, he is an innovator, the son of educators, with a mission to uplift Black communities in America. Black History in Two Minutes is part of that vision and a family tradition. Smith has lived Black History. He witnessed the 1962 March on Washington while in his mother’s arms. Because of the historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Smith gained access to teachers and resources available at a “high performing” public elementary school. He credits his parents and this early academic opportunity for opening his eyes to his true potential. Smith, who lives in Austin, Texas, where Vista’s headquarters are located, believes providing access to knowledge and the rich history of Black America to the next generation is an obligation of leadership. Accordingly, he brought together experts in history and documentary production to create what has become a Webby-award winning podcast.

Why Robert F. Smith Helped Develop Black History in Two Minutes?

Smith helped launch Black History in Two Minutes (or so) in 2019 to help preserve the African American experience and democratize online learning sources. The series aligns with some of Smith’s philanthropic goals, which include: inspiring the next generation of Black Americans and ensuring culture, reflecting the rich heritage of Black America, is accessible. Because of this steadfast commitment to invest in “people and their communities, societies and futures,” Smith made the TIME100 list as one of Time Magazine’s most influential people in September 2020. The series was also created to suit contemporary digital lives and packed with facts delivered by renowned Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. No need for a laptop. Children and adults can watch and/or listen to these brief but deep dives on most smartphones wherever there is a Wi-Fi connection. Learn who else is involved with Black History in Two Minutes.

What other history projects is Robert F. Smith involved with?

Robert F. Smith, a tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been busy making history.

  • In 2016, Smith donated $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was the largest individual contribution to the museum in its history. Now, visitors to the museum are able to share their families’ personal narratives at the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center. The center focuses on building skills for a new generation of curators to explore African American history and ensure it is accessible for generations to come.
 
  • In 2017, he joined other billionaire’s, such as Bill Gates, in taking the Giving Pledge, in which members must donate a majority of their net worth during their lifetime. That year, The Chronicle of Philanthropy named Smith one of the “Philanthropy 50.”
 
  • In 2019, Smith liberated the entire graduating class of Morehouse seniors from their student loan debts, a move David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College, called “the first of its kind.” For Smith, it was part of his commitment to give back and embody positive action as a mentor and role model and for which Smith was honored with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
 
  • In 2019, under Smith’s direction as founding director and President, the Foundation II Fund made a donation to assure the home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be preserved as his descendants’ intended to inspire generations to come.

How does Robert F. Smith Continue to Model Black Leadership?

Smith didn’t wake up one day a tech entrepreneur and business leader. He told Morehouse students that to seize his American dream he had to work harder than the rest to be the best. Smith cited boxing champion Muhammad Ali, saying, “Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” For those ready for a challenge, Smith is helping to create pathways to success so that Black students have the opportunity to follow his lead to someday create and own their own businesses. Fund II Foundation, with Smith’s leadership, has created an internship program, InternX, where qualified students can log in online and enter a supportive portal that can aid them in achieving their goals by matching them to prestigious internships in business and STEM companies. Professionals in the workforce should note that Smith is actively working to normalize workplace diversity. According to Smith, companies who want to commit to closing racial opportunity gaps should designate 2% of their yearly earnings to close them. Businesses must diversify their boards, explore ways to make higher education affordable for all students and work within the context of their communities as well as individual organizations to address inequities. Smith utilizes YouTube among other social media channels to help promote discussions and awareness surrounding inclusivity in businesses and opportunities for Black communities.

Learn how to subscribe to Black History in Two Minutes (or so)

Subscribe to the weekly episodes on the following apps: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS