Black history is American history.
A brief rundown on how Black History Month came to be.
In 1916 Carter G. Woodson, historian and founder of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History initiated what was then called Negro History Week. This was an annual week of commemoration that took place February 6-13. Fast forward to February 1969. Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University proposed the first Black history month. In 1970, Kent State students and educators celebrated the first Black History Month. After years of petitioning on college campuses during the Civil Rights Movement, sitting President Gerald Ford was the first president to acknowledge Black History Month in 1976.
Here’s a shortlist of famous Black Americans in STEM throughout history.
- George Alcorn – Physicist
- Benjamin Banneker – Astrophysicist
- Dr. Patricia Bath – Ophthalmologist & Inventor
- Otis Boykin – Inventor & Engineer
- Marie van Brittan Brown – Nurse and Inventor
- George Washington Carver – Agricultural Scientist & Inventor
- George Crum – Chef and Inventor of the potato chip
- Dr. Mark Dean – Computer Engineer
- Dr. Charles Drew – Surgeon and Medical Researcher
- Kenneth J. Dunkley – Physicist & Inventor of 3-D glasses
- Jeanette Epps – Aerospace Engineer and NASA Astronaut
- Dr. Sioban Day Grady – Computer Scientist
- Dr. Betty Harris – Chemist
- Mary Jackson – Mathematician and Scientist
- Mae Jemison – Engineer, Physician, & NASA Astronaut
- Kathrine Johnson – Mathematician
- Lonnie G. Johnson – Inventor, Aerospace Engineer, & Entrepreneur
- Fredrick Mckinley Jones – Inventor
- Leland Melvin -Engineer & NASA Astronaut
- Garret A. Morgan – Inventor of modern gas mask
- Valerie Thomas – Scientist & Inventor
- Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist
- Dorothy Vaughan – Engineer
- Madam C.J. Walker – Inventor
- Gladys West – Mathematician
- James E. West – Inventor & Acoustician
- Dr. Daniel Hale Williams – Surgeon
Want to dive deeper into Black History Month?
Here is a list of videos (and podcasts) to get you started.
- 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Black History Month
- Why Do We Still Need Black History Month?
- Dear Teachers: Do’s and Don’ts of Black History Month
- Why Black History Month Shouldn’t Exist | Let Lee Explain
- Crash Course on Black American History: podcast w/Clint Smith III, American writer, poet, and scholar.
Prefer to crack a good book? Here are some of our book recommendations on the topic of influential Black Americans in STEM.
- Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
- Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by Kimberly Brown Pellum
- Black Pioneers of Science and Invention – by Louis Haber
- Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life – by Dr. Mae Jemison
- Black History for Beginners – by Denise Dennis
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X – by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
- Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, And Little-Known Stories From History – by Tricia Wagner
- Reaching for the Moon – by Katherine Johnson
- 100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History – by Chrisanne Beckner
- Brave. Black. First.: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World – by Cheryl Hudson
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Resources used to write this blog: