On Friday, local, state and federal policy-makers, along with members of the local and national media, scholars and leaders from other community-minded organizations and celebrities came together at Johnson C. Smith University to discuss the need to expand Internet access to all citizens.
On the surface not having access to the Internet doesn’t seem like a big issue, but for many it is. CNN’s Ali Velshi says too many people don’t know the digital divide is a real problem with social consequences. Others agreed.
Speaking from the set of CSI NY actor and author Hill Harper described lack of access to the Internet as a civil rights issue. Harper said Internet access is critical to education, jobs and many other daily functions. Those who do not have access will be left behind. Dr. Nicole Turner-Lee, Vice President and the first Director of the Media and Technology Institute for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, agreed stating “[if you do not have access to broadband you are] limited in your educational trajectory…”
Representative Kelly Alexander explained the problem further by saying, “There is a move to get away from printed text books because of cost … looking at Kindle devices … updates through wifi/broadband … if you don’t have access to technology at home then you can’t do work at home … only at school/Starbucks, etc.”
While many at the Summit believed the lack of access to the Internet hindered the success of underserved communities, others like JCSU President Ronald Carter believed access alone does not guarantee success. Carter says access plus the ability to manage the information in a way that solves problems is true success.
Sound off: Tell us what you think on our Facebook page. Is lack of Internet access a civil rights issue?