Educator and Activist
Dr. Trimble’s numerous research interests include ‘the study and development of appropriate technology for national development in Africa and other underdeveloped regions’.
John was engaged in activism at an early age. He was drawn into the civil rights movement through his church, participating in marches and demonstrations in the Open Housing campaign in Chicago in 1966. As a student at Northwestern, he was active in For Members Only (FMO) the Black student organization and is a member of the B100 that led the Administration building takeover in 1968.
In graduate school at Stanford, he helped organize their first Black science and engineering organization. After graduate school he co-founded the first Black engineering organization in Silicon Valley.
In 1974, after learning of HP’s involvement in South Africa he organized and co-chaired an employee investigation committee. While unsuccessful in getting HP to divest from South Africa, this work opened connections with the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania. In 1974 and 1975 he worked with the African Liberation Day (ALD) Support Committee to help with ALD in San Francisco and Oakland California. In 1975, after hearing Kwame Ture speak of the importance of organizing Africans globally, John joined the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).
Realizing the importance of ALD as a vehicle to assist with African liberation, John has helped organized ALD every year since 1974. He has played a leading role in organizing ALD in US in Washington DC, Jackson MS, Sacramento California, and Atlanta. In Africa he has helped organize ALD in Bulawayo and Gweru Zimbabwe, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa, and Nairobi Kenya.
Committed to organizing on university campuses, John returned to study at UC Berkeley, Portland State University and then Georgia Tech. Organizing on campuses across the US, John spoke on programs and in classrooms from San Diego to Vancouver Canada, from Montgomery Alabama to Chicago. He continued his campus organizing as a professor working at the Atlanta University Center and Howard University in the US, teaching at University of Western Cape and Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa, the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe and serving as Dean of ICT at Umutara Polytechnic University in Rwanda. In all instances he focused on the importance of decolonizing higher education.
As a computing systems engineer and engineering professor, John strongly believes that technology must be used to empower communities and safeguard the planet.
In 2004 he organized the first international conference on appropriate technology, held in Zimbabwe. He serves at the founding president of the International Network on Appropriate Technology (INAT). Since 2004, INAT has organized ten international conferences held across Africa – South Africa, Benin, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the Sudan. INAT has sponsored community technology projects in Benin, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. INAT’s views are highlighted in an upcoming book Appropriate Technology Manifesto: shifting the forces of production to empower people and protect the planet.
Living over two years in Zimbabwe gives Prof. Trimble a good understanding of the impact of sanctions on the people. Working in Rwanda from 2006 to 2008, gave him a clear picture of the aftermath of genocide and the determination of Africa people to rebuild. Since 2014, Trimble has lived in South Africa working closely with the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Azanian People’s Organization (AZAPO). He is a co-founder of the Worldwide Pan-African Movement (WWPAM), an effort to build a coalition of Africanist organizations. Prof. Trimble can be called on to speak on a range of topics