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Profiling Kamal Al Mansour, An African American Artist And Inventor

Kamal Al Mansour

 

Kamal Al Mansour is an African American artist and inventor who earned a political science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981. He then went to law school and graduated with honors from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1984.

In 1985, Al Mansour began his career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a contract negotiator for Caltech and the Department of Energy (DOE). He collaborated with GTE Government Systems Division, which transformed Air Force technology into the GPS navigation system.

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Al Mansour founded CPTimeOnline and AfroLink Software in 1988 after noticing a lack of Black representation in software. Educational, historical, political, technical, and other information about African, Caribbean, and African American history and culture were included in these software programs.

In the 1990s, Al Mansour became the face of Black software entrepreneurship, appearing in EMERGE, Black Enterprise, Seattle Times, Wall Street Journal, Windows magazine, MacWeek magazine, and numerous other publications. He also appeared on CNN, Headline News, and various local news outlets.

For four years, AfroLink was marketed to K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, as well as clients in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Africa, and Europe. Despite its initial success and numerous buyout offers to its founder, the software had a loyal but dwindling following as it competed on the emerging Internet with competitors such as Netscape, whose browser made information, including data on Black history and culture, freely accessible.

Because of the web’s accessibility, commercially available software such as AfroLink has become increasingly obsolete.

Al Mansour returned to corporate America in 1998 and then moved from corporate law to information technology. He launched unVOZ.com in 1998 in an attempt to repurpose AfroLink content. The site’s Afrocentric art, tee shirts, hoodies, and clip art quickly became popular among a subset of the African American community.

After experiencing several life-changing events, including the death of close relatives, Al Mansour decided to return to art in 2003. He exhibited his work in the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Brand 35: Borders, the 35th Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper, the Brand Library Art Gallery (where he received the Peggy Lund Hayek Donor Award), and other venues between 2005 and 2007.

With work on display at the San Francisco Bay Area venues including the San Pablo Art Gallery, Richmond Art Center, and Prescott-Joseph Center, the Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland, the Esteban Sabar Gallery in Oakland, and Stanford University for the 11th Annual Art of Living Black Exhibit. Al Mansour had established himself as a notable Bay Area artist by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Al Mansour released his first book, Divine Consciousness: From a Dystopian Diaspora to Afrofuturism, in 2020. In 2021, his artwork will be included in the Storied References exhibition at the Northern Illinois University Art Museum. Al Mansour’s early career as the founder and president of AfroLink Software continues to influence his work, with his art focusing on uplifting Black culture and history.

 

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Written by How Africa News

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