As we conclude celebrations of Black History Month 2023, it remains important to recognize and celebrate the contributions Black people have made in diverse fields, including technology and the smartphone apps we use every day. From social media platforms to productivity tools, black developers and other people of color have worked hard to create apps that are innovative, useful, and just plain fun.
Here we focus on five helpful apps developed by black people that you should check out. These iPhone and Android apps range from those that help you discover and support Black-run businesses, to those that provide legal assistance in an emergency, to those that curate and highlight Black creators’ news and entertainment sources .
We also read WeReadToo
We Read Too is an app that contains a directory of books written by authors of color. The app was created by developer Kaya Thomas in response to the lack of diversity in children’s literature that she experienced as a teenager. Launched in 2014, the app aims to make it easier for young people to find books that reflect their experiences and identities.
“I would go to the library at school, to bookstores, and to book fairs, and I would see a very specific set of books,” Thomas said in an interview with Apple. “By the time I got into high school, I started getting really frustrated and wondering why there weren’t any books that I was exposed to that had black characters or were by black authors. I started doing my own research and found these books existed—they just weren’t on the bestseller lists or on display in the library or bookstore.”
When you download We Read Too, you will find that it contains a wide range of books from different genres and categories, from picture books to young adult fiction. The app’s interface allows users to search for books by author, title, or category, and includes descriptions and reviews for each book. There is also support for black owned bookstores, so users can find stores to buy the book of their choice.
Download We Read Too (iPhone)
Legal equalizer Legal equalizer
Legal Equalizer is an app developed by Mbye Njie to fight racial discrimination by law enforcement agencies. The app is intended to enable users to assert their rights in police encounters. Njie developed it in 2014 after being stopped by police for the third time in a month and mistaken for another man with a warrant.
After this experience, he developed the app and a company of the same name. The app gives users access to essential information and tools to document all interactions with law enforcement, including recording audio and video, sending an SOS message to designated contacts, and accessing legal resources. The app can also give users access to a lawyer through a video conferencing feature. Legal Equalizer can also help with encounters with immigration officers.
Download Legal Equalizer (iPhone)
Download Legal Equalizer (Android)
Dawn again Dawn again
ReDawn is an app that’s designed to be a bit more sobering compared to most on this list. Developed by Sopha Ongele, a then-student at Fordham University, it aims to help victims of sexual assault and harassment recover. This is done via a digital assistant, Dawn, who is able to answer support or reporting questions without judgement. Dawn can also direct individuals to hotlines when needed for immediate assistance, including crisis centers and 911.
ReDawn has a map feature for quick access to health and crisis centers in your area, as well as a reporting feature to log incidents for simultaneous confirmation should you wish to follow up with the police.
Download ReDawn (iPhone)
Tired of McDonald’s and Popeye’s? There’s an app for that too, and it’s not Grubhub. EatOkra is a popular cross-platform app that helps people find Black-owned restaurants and food delivery services in their area. It was founded by a Brooklyn couple — Anthony and Janique Edwards — after trying to find foods they would appreciate in their area. The app has since gained a solid reputation as a way to not only support black-owned businesses, but also to diversify its users’ dining experiences.
EatOkra allows users to search for black-owned restaurants and food businesses, either by location or type of cuisine. Upon opening the app, you have the option to choose from a wide directory of companies and add your own. At the time of writing, EatOkra supports over 9,500 listings in the US. According to the EatOkra website, the app has also partnered with Uber Eats, Apple, Pepsi, and others. If you’re hungry and looking for black-owned food, this is a pretty solid option.
Download EatOkra (iPhone)
Download EatOkra (Android)
Black – News + Culture Black
Black – News + Culture is a news app developed by MIT graduate Adam Taylor to create a space that is safe for Black people. It would focus on telling stories that were not the typical tales of crime or deprivation, but instead focused on uplifting messages that would enhance spiritual well-being.
Black highlights sources like The Root, Atlanta Black Star, BET, Essence, HuffPost Black Voices and many more. In addition to its source selection, the app uses AI and machine learning to curate stories that would be interesting to its audience.
“My company, Langston LLC, uses machine learning and language processing technologies to track the emotional tone of articles and aggregate content related to people who identify as Black,” Taylor said in an interview with Essence, a media company, aimed at black women.
Download Black (iPhone)