As the founder and leader of the African American Future Society, Yul studies trend lines of the past and present, projecting how Black Americans will work and live in the future. The Society aims to call attention to where current trajectories will likely lead, encouraging study, discussion, and the exploration of alternatives.
After graduating from Dartmouth College ’83, Yul earned a masters degree in Futurism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A few years later, in 1995, he formed the African American Future Society. While serving as a member of the Global Commission at the United Nations 1995, he had become “concerned that no Black people were at the heads of any organizing global governance tables talking about the future of the planet. The world had been moving very quickly without our true participation.”
Citing research that predicts the median wealth of Black Americans will fall to zero by 2053, as well as a 2019 Mckinsey study that found 25 percent of Black Americans are in jobs slated to become automated by 2030, Yul asks, “How do we take reports like these and develop an alternative strategy that can thwart these futures from occurring?”
The African American Futures Society also trains Black leaders in futures research and methodology, in partnership with UNESCO. Yul led the Future of Black America conference at UNESCO’s Futures Literacy Lab in November 2020, and just last month, he oversaw the Future of Black America Conference at New York City’s Carnegie Hall (featured in the Time magazine article). The conference served as a futures literacy laboratory for Black leaders of all sectors: political, commercial, non-profit, and academic.
Yul has also spent significant time abroad, attending and presenting at summits, assisting in Sierra Leon’s first democratic election, and working with parliamentarians in Kenya and Nairobi.
Since the most recent series of Black Lives Matter protests, Yul has seen more interest in his work. Looking forward, he is “hopeful that people will consider the future of Black America more seriously and adopt more long term thinking as opposed to the immediate relief of ‘take your knee off my neck.’”
Yul is also working towards creating a certificate program in Black futures at Temple University’s Department of Africology. “I’m hoping that more colleges across America will begin to adopt this discipline, to help prepare their students for the future.” Yul believes adding a Futurism curriculum would increase the competitiveness of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) graduates across the country. We are proud of our Shady Hill Changemaker and the great work he is doing!