Mapping Black California

Thursday, October 15, 10:30-11:30 AM (PDT)

Paulette Brown-Hinds, PhD

photo of Paulette Brown-Hinds, PhD

Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds is the founder of Voice Media Ventures and the second-generation publisher of The Black Voice News. The multi-media company includes news weekly print and digital editions and a strategic communications firm specializing in community outreach and engagement.

An award-winning columnist and Knight Digital Media Fellow, Paulette has nearly thirty years experience in media, communications, and community engagement. She is the immediate past president of the California News Publishers Association, the first African-American to lead the organization in its over 130 year history.  And she sits on the James Irvine Foundation, American Press Institute, California Press Foundation, and CalMatters boards, and is the board Vice-Chair of the Inland Empire Community Foundation.

Dr. Brown-Hinds is a former fellow at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, Salzburg, Austria. She earned a BA in English Literature from CSU San Bernardino and a MA and PhD from UC Riverside in English Literature. As a life-long student of African- American literature, culture and history she annually leads Underground Railroad Study Tours for the Black Voice Foundation, stewards a collection of rare antebellum slavery artifacts, and teaches a professional development course at UC Riverside for creatives.

She is the founder of Mapping Black California, a geospatial technology community mapping GIS and STE[A]M initiative, with a goal of building a “smart and connected” African-American community in the Golden State. She is featured in the book “Women in GIS” published by Esri Press.

Candice Mays

photo of Candice Mays

Candice Mays accumulated her dynamic and nimble skillset from her multifaceted career path traversing real estate investment, grassroots nonprofit capacity building, and public school educator. Regardless of title and industry, Candice’s professional life has been driven by her personal commitment to the written word, education, and social justice. 

After graduating from New York University with a Master’s in English Education, Candice became a New York State rated highly effective, tenured literacy teacher in just three years. Putting her students needs first while keeping their extenuating circumstances in mind taught Candice to never lose sight of who she works for – the people. As the project manager of Voice Media Ventures’ statewide African American media strategics campaign for Census 2020, Black Californians role as the primary stakeholder drove all her decisions surrounding community building through the media and community-based partnership formation of the Mapping Black California Census Lab. Print, social media, and radio campaigns reached blacks via community established trusted messengers and channels such as the Count Black Lives: Juneteenth Census Commemorative Event in collaboration with KJLH featuring Black Californian champions such as California State Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber.

Candice served as the communications and deliverable liaison between Voice Media Ventures and Census contractors as the creative content lead. She oversaw the development and approvals process of over 100 assets including radio spots, social media videos, social media posts, and print ads. An MFA graduate in Creative Writing from the University of Miami, Candice’s knowledge of how story interacts in written in visual forms enabled her to develop dynamic print and social media ads communicated positive messages and depictions of Black Californians while encouraging civic participation information about the Census in conjunction with culturally congruent imagery and messaging. 

As the project manager of Mapping Black California, a geojournalism initiative converging GIS informed media strategies, community formation, and storytelling to map and visualize the data telling the stories of the history Black Californians are living now. Her efforts to cultivate community statewide extend in all directions curating and writing, “Cali Love, A Newsletter,” dedicated to the current events, concerns, and culture values of all things Black and Californian.

“Understanding precedes action…”

Mapping our Assets

Mapping Black California is a collaboration between Black Voice News and Esri that combines the advocacy journalism legacy of the Black Press and the data visualization capabilities of geospatial technology to better understand the data on African-Americans in the Golden State.

About Black Voice News

Students at the University of California Riverside founded the Black Voice News in 1972. Eight years later, Hardy and Cheryl Brown assumed stewardship of the publication and transformed it into a news and media organization that reported on local, state, national, and international stories affecting the African-American community. As the first Black newspaper on the west coast to publish stories online, Black Voice News has always been forward-thinking in its adoption of new technologies. In 2012 Hardy and Cheryl Brown turned over control of the organization to their daughter, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, who has continued in the same tradition of advocacy journalism, while keeping the company apace with the fast-changing world of digital publishing. 

Mapping Black California developed through the Black Voice News team’s use of Esri’s ArcGIS Story Map technology and Dr. Brown-Hinds’ conversations with Esri’s co-founder and president Jack Dangermond.

About Esri

The Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) founded by Jack and Laura Dangermond in Redlands, California in 1969 is the pioneer and global market leader in geographic information system technology, or GIS. Utilizing “The Science of Where,” their science-based approach to “solving real problems in real time,” Esri supports organizations around the world with powerful mapping software and spatial analytic technology.


Mapping Black California is a dynamic mapping project that serves as a catalyst to build a career pipeline and expose the broader African American community to the power of geospatial technology. By partnering with schools, universities, non-profit organizations, and businesses statewide, the Mapping Black California team uses Esri software to visualize data relevant to California’s African American community. Example use includes: identifying and visualizing key assets; facilitating efforts to address chronic disparities in criminal justice, education, and healthcare outcomes; creating service-learning opportunities for students; and much more.


In 2015, at the urging of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as the Obama Administration, increasing diversity in the technology industry became a national imperative. Dozens of tech companies signed diversity pledges, adopted inclusion plans, and invested in partnerships to increase the pipeline for tech talent. In that spirit, Mapping Black California is designed to create a pipeline of African-American geospatial experts.


There are over 3 million African Americans living in California, and the Golden State is home to the single wealthiest Black community–and two of the top ten most affluent predominantly Black communities–in the United States, however Blacks in California continue to face numerous negative disparities:

  • We are over-represented in prisons and jails
  • We are under-represented in public universities
  • We have a higher high school drop-out rate
  • We are disproportionately affected by heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and obesity

Utilizing GIS tools–specifically Esri’s ArcGIS, Story Maps, and ArcGIS Hub–the Mapping Black California initiative will allow us to better understand the state of Black California, the social, political, and economic issues affecting it, and the means by which we can address the racial disparity problem.

Census Efforts

Mapping Black California through Voice Media Ventures has partnered with multiple regional and statewide committees coordinating and assisting officials in achieving as accurate a count of the African American community in California as possible. Identified as a “Hard to Count” population because of multiple obstacles including: economic disenfranchisement; housing issues; and a distrust of government officials, Voice Media Ventures and Mapping Black California are using “culturally congruent”, innovative technological tools with the formation of the MBC Census Lab. Leveraging a statewide network of over 20 Black media partners, MBC Census Lab engages Black Californians in civic, census participation long before the actual count begins and throughout the enumeration period via the converged use of GIS informed media strategies, community formation, and storytelling. A more accurate account will result in more funding for specific communal needs unique to the African American population serving to address the racial disparity gaps we seek to close.


Kelly Research & Outreach Lab – University of California, Berkeley

California State University, San Bernardino

University of California, Riverside

Black Voice Foundation, Inc.

League of California Cities African-American Caucus

Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives: 1 Million Abolitionists Project

Fortune School of Education

Inland Leadership Alliance

Ignite Leadership Academy

Blu Educational Foundation

Black Future Leaders

California Black Media

IE Small Business Development Center

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren


The James Irvine Foundation

California Endowment

C3 Expo

The Community Foundation

Voice Media Ventures


Southern California Edison