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!
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.
In 1986, Katherine retired from NASA and in 2015, President Obama honored her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to NASA.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Ms. Dandridge definitely set the bar when it came to roles during that time and she should be remembered as a trailblazer.
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 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.
‘Tis the month that black people get the most recognition of their greatness. When you’re black, you celebrate the success of other black people all the time but when you aren’t, you mainly celebrate US in the month of February (and award shows sometimes ).
This month I’ll be highlighting some black history facts to educate you all, as well as others so be on the look out. ✊🏽
Over the weekend, the story of Walter “Johnny D” McMillian was told in theaters starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B Jordan. Based on a true story, Johnny D was wrongfully accused and charged with killing an 18 year old white woman in 1986 in Monroeville, Alabama. The judge urged the death penalty on Johnny before a jury of white people urged a life sentence. A judge overrode the jury’s sentence and sentenced Johnny to the death penalty.
Johnny’s lawyer, the incredible Bryan Stevenson, was determined to not only prove that Johnny was innocent but other inmates as well. With Bryan being a fresh Harvard graduate, he had a lot of knowledge and determination. He quickly learned that the south was nothing to play with. They threatened him and tried to scare him away but he was bent on proving Johnny’s innocence, as well as Herbert Richardson.
Herbert was a Vietnam veteran who fought for his country but he was discharged due to psychological issues. He was from Brooklyn but eventually moved to Alabama and was still suffering trauma from the war. Due to his trauma and mental issues, he placed a bomb on a front porch that killed a young girl. He was charged with capital murder. Bryan tried to stop Herbert’s execution due to the fact that his previous lawyer did not attempt to appeal his case due to his psychological issues during and after the war. The jury failed to acknowledge that, not only was he an army vet but he suffered a mental illness and that should’ve been considered when they gave him the death penalty. He should’ve been placed in a mental ward for life versus getting the death penalty. One of the saddest scenes is the moments leading up to his execution. Herbert stated that more people had asked him if he needed any help in his last 14 hours of living, than they did his entire years that he battled with his mental illness and trauma. A tearful moment is when Johnny and the other inmates said goodbye to Herbert, told him that he wasn’t alone and that they were all there with him in spirit. They rattled their pans as the execution was going on, so Herbert could hear them and know that they were present with him.
Bryan took initiative to meet Johnny’s family to learn more about him and the day the young woman was murdered. Johnny was at home that day cooking fish for a fish fry that his family was hosting at his house. So, how was he miles away at a murder scene if he was truly at home? I’ll tell you how…bribery. The sheriff bribed a white felon named Ralph Myers to say that he was with Johnny when he committed the crime. The sheriff had bribed him by taking him off death row. As time went on and after further investigation, Bryan not only got the truth out of Myers but he found recordings of his initial statement saying he didn’t want to lie on an innocent man.
The case was told on 60 minutes and they even took the case to the supreme court to overturn Johnny’s conviction and exonerate him. The district attorney, who initially wasn’t for Johnny getting released, went in favor of getting his charges being dismissed. It was definitely a cheerful moment for the Johnny, his family and Bryan. Walter Johnny D McMillian went from being on death row for 6 years to being one of the first people in the state of Alabama to be released from death row.
This was definitely a miracle story but it still brings sadness due to the fact that…this happened in the late 1980’s to early 90’s. Racial injustice should have never been a thing in the first place but it was and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr fought for equality and much more in the 60’s so there shouldn’t have been any reason that this unjustness was still happening. A few takeaways from this film:
Shit like this still happens…as of 2020
We should reconsider giving army vets who have trauma psychological help instead of the death penalty
I hope white people really dissect the film and see that black people aren’t making this shit up when we say that we are wrongfully accused for crimes.
Bryan Stevenson did all this work for pro bono
GO SEE IT!!
IF you’ve seen the film already. What are your thoughts?
The movie Hustlers, which is based on a true story, is more than women robbing men blind. It’s about being about your money and having motivation behind your purpose. One of the main characters Destiny, played by Constance Wu, needed money to help her grandmother so she was dancing at the strip club. She wasn’t the best so she got help from Ramona, played by Jennifer Lopez. Ramona gets her hip on the kind of guys to scout and from there, she starts making good money.
Sidebar: The ladies went after guys who worked on Wall St since they had money and there was a wide range of them.
With the mindset of needing more money, Destiny was motivated to learn new business tips in order to support her family. In the midst of meeting new guys, Destiny meets a guy, who becomes her boyfriend; they have a daughter together. During that time, she stops dancing to raise her daughter. After two years, her boyfriend decides to leave. At this point, she has two people to take care of so she decided to go back to dancing.
Once Destiny returns, the club is different and she has to try harder to make her money. She reunites with Ramona and to up their game, they think of a strategic way to make more money. They come up with the idea to meet guys at bars, slip some “happy powder” into their drinks, lure them into the strip club, take their credit card, and charge it at the bar and have the bartender eventually cash them out or they’ll take the card to the ATM.
YES, all the scamming they did sounds CRAZY; they were dedicated to making money because they had families to feed. Destiny and Ramona looked at this scam as a business and when operating a business, you think of new way to better your business, new strategies. The ladies were consistent with their strategies and did whatever it takes to get to the top. Ramona didn’t care about scamming the Wall St guys because they screwed over America and crashed the stock market, so in her eyes, why should they sympathize with them.
Of course they were caught; Destiny took a plea deal and Ramona had to serve little time but more than anything, they did what it took to have a successful business. They were motivated by making money, which made them consistent in finding the right men to get money from, which made them find better strategies to get money from them. As crazy as it sounds, the more scheming they did, the more money they made. Was it worth it in the end? Yes, because they grew a great business mindset. Men can over sexualize and even skeet women but when women get their extra moneys worth out of men, then we are forced to go overboard at times. Was it right what they did? No, but as Ramona said ..
“This country is a strip club. You got people throwing the money and people doing the dance”
And that tailors more to life and politics than just dancing.
What are your thoughts on the movie/real life depiction?