Black History Month | Heroes in the Sciences

MY HERO Celebrates Black History with this feature on African American Heroes in the Sciences

Black History Month
Credit: Robert Shetterly


Particularly for young people, it's important to see diverse role models in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which has historically had low numbers of minorities and women. Because of the reprehensible legacy of slavery, which denied African Americans their human rights, African Americans were generally denied access to education systematically. This fight took a turning point in the 20th century, with Brown vs. the Board of Education, which ended the "separate but equal" policy of segregating school children. However, the effort to level the playing field and encourage more minorities and women to enter STEM fields continues.

For Black History Month, we celebrate the African American heroes in science: scientists, engineers, mathematicians, inventors and innovators.

Natural/Pure Sciences | Physical Science

Benjamin Banneker

By: Hailey from San Diego

Benjamin was a free African-American astronomer, almanac author who drew up the original boundaries of the District of Columbia.

Guion Bluford

By: Bobby from Eden Prairie

Guion Bluford became the first African-American astronaut.

Mae Jemison

By: Christian Walsh

Mae Jemison is an astronaut who dreamed of going to space since childhood.

Clifford V. Johnson

By: Jennifer Lauren Lee

Clifford V. Johnson is a string theorist who studies the makeup of the smallest particles of the universe.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

By: Daren from Hawesville
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, cosmologist and science communicator.

Natural/Pure Sciences | Life Science

George Washington Carver

By: Christian from Las Vegas
George Washington Carver was born an African American slave but became a renowned scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor.

Matthew Henson

By: Claudia Herrera Hudson
Matthew Henson was a brave African-American Arctic explorer, and the co-discoverer of the North Pole.

Marie M. Daly

By: Staff

Marie Daly fell in love with biology reading about microbes in her grandfather's library. She became the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. 

Percy Julian

By: Kathy Crockett

Percy Julian was a groundbreaking African American chemist, inventor, and trailblazer.

Formal Sciences | Mathematics

Katherine Johnson
Credit: St George

Katherine Johnson

By: Kyra from Ankara, Turkey
Katherine Johnson plotted multiple flight courses for NASA, including the course of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, which is famous for having been the first spaceship to reach the moon.

Mary Jackson

By: Diana from San Diego
Mathematician Mary Jackson was one of the "human computers" who worked at NASA as an aeronautical engineer, performing calculations.

Applied Sciences | Medicine

Daniel Hale Williams III

By: Brandon Collins from San Diego
Daniel Williams finally proved himself as a hero when he trail blazed the way for future African American surgeons, doctors, and nurses by opening the first interracial staff hospital.

Vivien Thomas

By: Vivian from Glenbrook Middle School
Vivien Theodore Thomas was an African-American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

By: Jane Wallace

The first Surgeon General for the state of California, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a pioneer in the treatment of toxic stress and the founder of the Center for Youth Wellness.

Helene Gayle

By: Geeta Malik
Helene Gayle is one of the leading authorities on AIDS research.


Garrett Morgan

By: Jacob from Eden Prairie
Garrett Morgan invented versions of the gas mask and the traffic signal.

Madam C.J. Walker

By: Alexandra from St. Paul

Madam C.J. Walker was an inventor, businesswoman and philanthropist. She used her business success to fight discrimination and open doors for others.


Organizer created on 1/27/2019 9:04:07 PM by MY HERO Staff

Last edited 2/13/2019 11:52:28 AM by Xenia Shin