Black History Month: Katherine Johnson

Mathematician Extraordinaire Katherine Johnson suddenly passed away at the age of 101 today. With it being Black History Month, it’s only right to recognize her accomplishments.

In 1953, Katherine began working at NASA, starting off doing computing work in the research lab then moved up the career ladder. In 1961, she helped with analysis work on Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Spaceflight.  For the 1962 Friendship 7 flight, which was the first to orbit earth, Katherine ran calculations by hand in order for the flight to be a success, and it was!

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artsttechnica.com

One of Ms. Katherine’s biggest accomplishments was helping with the Apollo 11 spacecraft, in which men landed on the moon in 1969. Her work with NASA was told in the 2017 movie Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson as Ms. Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson.

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In 1986, Katherine retired from NASA and in 2015, President Obama honored her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to NASA. 

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Ms. Katherine Johnson, along with Dorothy Vaughan and  Mary Jackson broke racial and gender barriers during their time at NASA. Katherine Johnson will be remembered as a genius, role model and one of the many faces of black excellence.

RIP to her and may her memory live on. 

 

 

sources:
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/katherine-johnson-nasa-mathematician-depicted-hidden-figures-dead-101-n1141566
https://www.npr.org/2020/02/24/517784975/katherine-johnson-nasa-mathematician-and-an-inspiration-for-hidden-figures-dies

Black History Month: Chuck Berry

St. Louis’ own Chuck Berry is known as the Father of Rock and Roll. Chuck started performing in the early 1940’s and not only was he a performer but he also graduated with a cosmetology degree; was a freelance photographer and worked at a car plant. HE DID IT ALL!

His first single was “Maybellene” and was considered to be the first rock n’ roll song. Then followed “Roll Over Beethoven” in 1956, “Rock And Roll Music” in 1957, “Johnny B Goode” in 1958, and more to follow. He created his signature dance “The Duck Walk” in 1956.

See the source image
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During his time, Chuck broke racial barriers by being a black man performing country songs in front of a white audiences and even getting black people hip to his country songs. Chuck expanded the music style to both races and was well-known across the world…even NASA recognized his music.

Chuck was a dedicated performer and will always be known as the FATHER of Rock and Roll.

See the source image
slate.com

 

 

sources:

https://www.biography.com/musician/chuck-berry

https://www.clashmusic.com/features/10-things-you-never-knew-about-chuck-berry

https://www.everythingzoomer.com/arts-entertainment/2018/03/18/chuck-berry-fascinating-facts/

Black History Month: Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge was a singer, dancer and actress from the 1930s through the 50s . She got into the show business alongside her sister Vivian. In the 50’s she scored the leading role in Carmen, in which she was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Award (The Oscars). Yes, Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman EVER to be nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in Gone with the Wind, and the first black woman to WIN that award; but Dorothy Dandridge was the first black woman to be nominated for a leading role. (Not knocking Ms. Hattie McDaniel)

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Even though Dorothy didn’t win, she did set the standard that African American women can be nominated for a leading role. She even turned down a few roles that portrayed black people in a bad light. She declined roles such as slaves, savages and servants that were only offered to black people. 

In 1954, Dorothy was featured on Life magazine AND she was the first BLACK woman to be on the cover.

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Ms. Dandridge definitely set the bar when it came to roles during that time and she should be remembered as a trailblazer.

 

Black History Month: Happy Birthday Huey Newton

Huey Newton was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, alongside Bobby Seale, in 1966. The purpose of starting the organization was in response to police brutality against black people. The Black Panther Party wanted to demonstrate the need for black self-reliance. Read more about it here –> Black Panther Party Facts

Huey did live a life of crime but his accomplishments within the Black Panther Party overshadowed his wrongdoings, such providing social services to the community like health clinics and free meals for children.

 

Huey P. Newton | Zinn Education Project
zinnedproject.org

 

Huey even went back to school to obtain his Ph.D in social philosophy. His life was cut short when in 1989 he was killed in Oakland, California. His teachings will be remembered and the Black Panther Party is forever part of history.

 

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