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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meet L Martin JohnsonPratt - #FF @iluvblackwomen on Twitter ( Follow Friday) via @pamperry

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Meet L Martin JohnsonPratt - @iluvblackwomen on Twitter

LMartin JohnsonPratt


Twitter socialite and tech veteran Martin Johnson Pratt is known for building buzz and taking names. He has had more than 20 years of experience in the industry and  is currently the Social Media Strategist for Rolling Out Magazine.

But that's probably not why you know him.

Pratt is most recognized for his  @iluvblackwomen Twitter handle and a matching t-shirt that he sports in all of his profile pictures.

"I wear my 'I love black women' t-shirt even to really formal events," Pratt explains. "People either love it or they hate it. That's been my thing… at least online."

Pratt's 16k+ Twitter followers have also voted him up to number 16 on our Top 50 Tech Tastemakers list. At Black Web 2.0, tastemakers are the developers, the thinkers, and the risk takers. They are not influenced but create influence– and they do it through amazingly bold and innovative action. I got a chance to chat with Martin about how he got his start as a techie and how the Iluvblackwomen brand was created.

On His Start in Tech

Although Martin is currently a New Yorker, he was born and raised in New Jersey. He explained that his love of tech started at an early age and credits his parents for helping him take the first step.

"I really owe my start as a techie to my parents. They bought me my first computer–a Comodore 64k–and that is when I started tinkering," Pratt says.

At the age of only 16, he began working at the Newark Port Authority where he learned how to network IBM computers.  Martin's success at the Port Authority allowed him a rare opportunity to show off his talents to industry influencers during a time when the technology boom was still on the horizon.

"Being a kid from Newark working in corporate America at 16 was crazy," Pratt says. "But I was still really fortunate. After I left the Port Authority I went to ADP, Automated Data Processing, and was able to  just keep getting jobs from there."

On Growing as a Techie and Getting to Rolling Out

After transitioning from ADP into a job at Fund for the City of New York, Pratt decided to leave and become a consultant.

"I didn't want to leave Fund for the City," Pratt admits. "But dotcom was arching, people's magazines were coming out, there was just a buzz in New York that I could feel. I wanted to be an entrepreneur."

In 2002, Pratt snagged an hour long radio spot on the 90.3 fm for his Technocolor Radio show. In addition to his consulting and contracts, he also parlayed his efforts in the world of social media websites like MySpace. He co-founded the first African-American Literary radio show, The Urban Literary Review, on Blog Talk Radio and started a political blog called Kulturefirst.

Then in July of 2009, Munson Steed, the owner of Rolling Out, approached him.

"Munson tweeted me and said, 'why aren't you working for us?' and told me to meet him in Central Park on Sunday," Pratt explains.  "There was no formal interview, no 'let me see your resume,' nothing. At the end of July he gave me password. It was one of those moments where real just recognized real."

On the origins of Iluvblackwomen

While shopping at his aunt's bookstore in Harlem, Martin noticed a book that would later inspire his famous Twitter handle.

"I saw this book called 'Why Black Men Date White Women,'" Pratt says. "And it was crazy for me because I've never dated anyone outside of my race or even been attracted to anyone who wasn't black. I started Iuvblackwomen because I love sisters.  And there are a lot of males out there who feel the same way that I do but don't have a voice."

Although he already had a following on Myspace with his Culture First political blog, Pratt wanted to expand Iluvblackwomen out of the circle and into the mainstream.

"I didn't expect Iluvblackwomen to become  this big," Pratt says. " At the beginning, I could only get 70 people to follow me. There was no marketing involved. I just started posting comments on the Web that I love black women. I got 3,000 followers in the first month by bascially doing nothing."

On Being a Tastemaker

"I'm not really sure who I think nominated me," Pratt admits with a laugh. "But I feel really honored. I was actually pretty shocked at first because when I went and looked at the list I was surprised at how many people I didn't know. It's great to see so many people doing good things in tech and social media."

Content Creation: TV, Film, Web, Books, ScreenPlays, and Treatments.
Social Media Strategist for the Steed Group· New York, New York

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