A Special Reunion

I’m headed to Holmdel, New Jersey this weekend for a very special reunion. It’s a gathering of pioneering Bell Laboratories engineers, scientists, and administrative staff – a group of friends who joined the company at a time of great social and technological change. I’ve been calling the group the “Bell Labs O.G.s,” for Original Gangsters. The core group of attendees will be many of the trailblazers who comprised the “first wave” of black Bell Labs employees. Most of these folks began working at the company in the 1970s and 1980s. This was a time when the vast majority of Bell Labs technical staff were white and male.

The black employees banded together out of necessity to provide camaraderie, advice, and cultural reinforcement. While we provided support to each other, we also developed friendships and professional relationships with Bell Labs employees from every other background and ethnic group. Some of those folks will be joining our O.G.s reunion this weekend, and they will be most welcome. We are expecting upwards of 80 folks, so we should have a great time reminiscing, catching up, and just plain partying.

A few of the Bell Labs O.G.s at an earlier gathering.

I started to describe in this post how I felt during those early days at Bell Labs, but then I remembered that I wrote a whole chapter on the subject in my book “Proving Ground: A Memoir.” I’ve decided to attach that chapter, entitled “Mecca,” to this post. The chapter captures my contemporaneous thoughts, feelings, and observations in a way I couldn’t possibly do today. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Proving Ground: A Memoir/Chapter 21/”Mecca”

My original Bell Labs nameplate, circa 1976.

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