Black History Month | Heroes in the Sciences

MY HERO Celebrates African American Heroes in the Sciences

MY HERO Celebrates Black History Month | Heroes in the Sciences

African American Heroes in Space Exploration

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. [This story is available with audio.]

Katherine Johnson
Credit: St George

MY HERO Suggested Video

"HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big." - 20th Century Fox


Guion Bluford

By: Bobby from Eden Prairie
Guion Bluford became the first African-American in space.

Mae Jemison

By: Christian Walsh

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

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 legacy of slavery, African Americans were denied their human rights, and have systemically been denied access to equal education. This fight took a turning point in the 20th century, with Brown v. 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.

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.


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.

Dorothy Vaughan

By: Brittny Barcenas
Dorothy Vaughan was the first African American woman to supervise the West Area Computers, "human computers" at NASA (originally NACA) during the Space Race.

Applied Sciences | Medicine

Alice Ball

By: MY HERO Staff
Alice Ball was an African American chemist who created a highly effective treatment for leprosy. She wasn't given credit for her discovery until after her death.

Aileen Cole Stewart: Called to Serve

By: MY HERO Staff
Aileen Cole Stewart made history as one of 18 African American nurses to serve in the Army Nurse Corp during WWI.

Daniel Hale Williams III

By: Brandon Collins from San Diego
Daniel Hale Williams III 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.


Madam C.J. Walker

By: Alexandra from St. Paul

Madam C.J. Walker used her haircare business success to fight discrimination and open doors for others. [This story is available with audio.]

Garrett Morgan

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


From PB NOVA: Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers. The Diversity in STEM collection features diverse role models, men and women of all races.

Ten Black Scientists that Science Teachers Should Know About
Credit: PBS

From PB NOVA: Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers. The Diversity in STEM collection features diverse role models, men and women of all races.

Diversity in STEM: PBS Learning Media
Credit: PBS

Related Pages

Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month and the achievements of African Americans in civil rights, science, art and sports.

Black History Month | Civil Rights and Social Justice Heroes

By: MY HERO Staff
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Black History Month | Heroes in the Sciences

By: MY HERO Staff
MY HERO Celebrates African American Heroes in the Sciences

Black History Month | Heroes in Music, Art, and Literature

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Black History Month | Heroes in Sports

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Visual Artists inspired by Jazz

By: Giselle Villatoro
Artist often derive inspiration from various media. These are a couple painters who were inspired by Jazz.


By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
Juneteenth, or African American Freedom Day, celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in the United States in 1865. The day is celebrated on June 19th, the month the proclamation was read to the slaves in Texas -- the last state to uphold slavery after the proclamation went into effect in January of that year.

The Little Rock 9

By: Xenia Shin
On September 23, 1957, African American students known as "The Little Rock Nine" desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Three years earlier, the Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled school segregation unconstitutional. While the nine had the law and the school behind them, they faced tremendous discrimination from citizens and the national guard.

MY HERO Curated Resources for Middle and High School Students - Civil Rights

By: Laura Nietzer
Use these resources to inspire compassion and activism in your students, and ask them to identify a civil rights issue they can learn more about.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By: Xenia Shin
Celebrated on the third Monday of January, this day of service honors the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- the most influential civil rights leader in US history.

Black Lives Matter | Voices of Hope and Change

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
These 21st century heroes are moving America forward in racial justice and equality.

Our Curators


Artwork curated by MY HERO Arts Education and Gallery director Giselle Villatoro. 


Short films curated by MY HERO International Film Festival director Wendy Milette


Hero Stories curated by MY HERO General Editor and Story Director Shannon Luders-Manuel. 


Audio curated by MY HERO Audio director Stu Pearlman. 

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

Last edited 1/23/2024 10:47:24 AM by Laura Nietzer