Black History Month Voices: Ellington West | Commentary

During February, Maryland residents are commemorating Black History Month by studying and celebrating the past. Meanwhile, what’s being called the racial reckoning of 2020 is barely in the rearview mirror. Those recent events — Black people killed by police and marches demanding systemic change — are prompting some Baltimore-area residents to explore what needs to be done to ensure there is substantial progress toward achieving racial justice and equity.

The Baltimore Sun asked residents: What will it take to move the region ahead in 2021 and beyond? Specifically what do they want to change, and how will they help make those changes happen? Each week this month, we will share some of their comments about how they hope to move forward after a tumultuous 2020.


The essays have been edited for clarity and length.

Ellington West, 33, co-founder and CEO, Sonavi Labs

Ellington West, founder and CEO of Sonavi Labs Inc. and her father Dr. James West, who is an inventor and mentor. She says they are working to build the bridges that enrich Black communities. February 16, 2021

In order to move forward, we have to embrace our history and ensure that it is told with fidelity and accuracy.

As a young Black woman and the co-founder and CEO of a medical device and software company, I often feel alone, but I understand the reasons so few people like me have these opportunities.

My parents armed me with the truth of my power and the power of my lineage. The work we are doing at Sonavi Labs is intended to improve the health of people in Baltimore by creating technology that is affordable and accessible for all.

I am also working with my father, who is a huge part of where I am today, to build the bridges that enrich Black communities, supporting each other with living examples and road maps.

My commitment to this city is to continue to connect children to STEAM-focused programs that understand the nuanced challenges of our community. Programs like MiHUB and Project Ingenuity provide transformative resources for young students, who will go on to invent life changing technology.

— Compiled by Hallie Miller

Read more Black History Month essays and other features.