BLACK ENTERPRISE To Showcase HBCU tech talent and prowess at the 8th Annual BE Smart Hackathon

Sponsored by American Airlines, the four-day event empowers the largest gathering of HBCU students to date, poised to become leaders in the tech industry. 

NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — BLACK ENTERPRISE, the premier Black-owned digital media brand dedicated to providing business, investment, and wealth-building resources for African Americans, is proud to announce the return of the 8th Annual BE Smart Hackathon, hosted by American Airlines. This year’s event promises to be an impactful gathering of students from 25 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who will converge on the American Airlines headquarters in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, and receive the necessary skills to become influential leaders in the dynamic world of technology. Scheduled to take place from Thursday, Nov. 2nd to Sunday, Nov. 5th, the focus of this year’s event revolves around the theme “All Code No Switch” and sets the stage for a hackathon that pledges to foster innovation, collaboration, and empowerment.

Uniting the largest student gathering in its history, the 8th Annual BE Smart Hackathon will assemble an impressive group of 180 students representing renowned HBCUs, with schools like Alabama State University, Edward Waters University, Florida Memorial University, Norfolk State University, Philander Smith University, Rust College, and Talladega College joining for the first time, and Spelman College returning after a short hiatus. Created to offer participants exceptional prospects, this event enables them to forge lasting connections, access mentorship opportunities, and enrich their résumés with meaningful experiences.

“As the technology industry continues to evolve, the demand for skilled professionals is higher than ever, and BLACK ENTERPRISE recognizes the importance of nurturing the talent that already exists within HBCUs,” said BLACK ENTERPRISE President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. “This event, in partnership with American Airlines, is a testament to our unwavering commitment to fostering diversity in the tech industry and ensuring that HBCU students have access to the opportunities and mentorship they need to excel in their careers.”

The BE Smart Hackathon is a platform for participants to engage in friendly competition and an opportunity to showcase their technical skills and gain practical knowledge in utilizing emergent APIs. Featuring 36 participating teams, students will be evaluated on their app’s viability, practicality for end-users, and the efficiency of the technological infrastructure. Teams will represent the following schools:

  • Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University
  • Alabama State University
  • Benedict College
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • Dillard University
  • Edward Waters University
  • Fisk University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Memorial University
  • Grambling State University
  • Howard University
  • Jackson State University
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Morehouse College
  • Morgan State University
  • NC A&T State University
  • Norfolk State University
  • Philander Smith University
  • Rust College
  • Southern University and A&M College
  • Spelman College
  • Talladega College
  • Tennessee State University
  • Tuskegee University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

“American Airlines is proud to support the BE Smart Hackathon and play a role in fostering the next generation of tech leaders,” said Cedric Rockamore, Chief Diversity Officer at American Airlines. “We believe in the talent and innovation that these students bring to the table, and we’re excited to provide mentorship and career opportunities. This event is a testament to the power of diversity in driving technological advancement and we’re honored to be a part of it.”

What truly sets this hackathon apart is the tangible path it offers to career opportunities. BE Smart Hackathon participants are recruited annually for internships and full-time job opportunities at American Airlines and its technology partners. During the 24-hour hack, American Airlines will provide technical staff to mentor each team. These mentors will assist teams in overcoming obstacles and guide them in preparing and delivering their presentations to the judging panel.

For more information about this exciting event, please visit


Founded in 1970, BLACK ENTERPRISE is a mission-centric publication focused on providing relevant information for success-minded people at every stage of their financial journey. Designed to highlight Black leadership and entrepreneurial journeys, BLACK ENTERPRISE reaches its audience through its events and linear and digital channels. BLACK ENTERPRISE aims to be a fountain of knowledge for the how to achieve financial success. To learn more about the company, please visit and follow them on social media across Instagram, X, and Facebook.


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