Editor's note: Soledad O'Brien chronicles the NewMe Accelerator journey in "Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley," at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.
(CNN) - As a young teen, Wesley Williams believed his only career option was to work at a local warehouse in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
“I wasn’t planning on going to college, I wasn’t planning on graduating high school, I was planning on doing nothing with my life,” he said.
Now, nearly 10 years later, he is a college graduate and an IT administrator and developer.
“I would be either dead or in jail," he said. "Those would have been my options had it not been for BDPA.”
BDPA, formerly known as the Black Data Processing Associates, is a non-profit organization founded to increase the number of minorities in information technology related industries.
Business is hard, tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor said. And startups? Really hard.
But he's been doing this for a while, and had plenty of advice for the NewMe Accelerator participants, whose attempt to break into the tech business are documented in "Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley." The documentary airs at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.
Ron Conway, one of the top angel investors in Silicon Valley, offered his perspective on what he looks for in a company, too.
Freada Kapor Klein, founder of Level Playing Field Institute, says women have a responsibility to help Silicon Valley become a true meritocracy by working together with other underrepresented communities: "I think women, based on our experience, ought to be empathetic to the obstacles and struggles of others and ought to be the bridge builders."
Soledad O'Brien reports "Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley," at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.
Rareviews go inside the lives of those in America whose stories we don't always hear.
In the earliest day of Occupy Wall Street, Malik Rahsaan wasn't seeing the black and brown faces he expected to be there. Rahsaan, the "Occupy the Hood" co-founder, and Monica Montgomery, an activist, saw the issues in their community need to have a voice at Zuccotti Park, too. "We've been struggling and now America's getting a taste of what we've been living with and dealing with for generations," Montgomery said. "Let's join and be a part of change for everyone."