Black History Month – remembering the contributions to STEM

Celebrate Black History Month by recognizing the trailblazing individuals who made a lasting impact on STEM fields. Discover the inspiring stories of Katherine Johnson, George Washington Carver, Mae Jemison, Percy Julian, Mark Dean and more who paved the way for future generations to pursue their passions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and acknowledge the significant contributions made by Black individuals to various fields, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Despite facing discrimination and adversity, Black individuals have made immense contributions to STEM and have helped shape the world as we know it today. In this article, we will explore some of the most influential figures in the Black community who have left a lasting impact on STEM fields.

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson is one of the most celebrated mathematicians in the Black community. She was a pioneer in the field of space science and was instrumental in determining the trajectory of NASA’s first human mission to space. Her incredible mathematical abilities and attention to detail earned her a reputation as a human-computer, and she played a critical role in sending astronauts to the moon. Katherine’s legacy continues to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to never give up on their dreams.

Amazing fact: Katherine was so good at math that she was working with complex calculations by the age of 8!

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was another prominent figure in the Black community who made a significant impact on STEM fields. He was born into slavery and faced numerous obstacles in his pursuit of education. Despite this, he went on to become a renowned agricultural scientist and botanist, known for his work in developing new methods of farming and improving the lives of farmers. Carver’s innovative ideas and contributions to agriculture continue to shape the field today and his legacy serves as a source of inspiration for all aspiring scientists.

Amazing fact: George was an orphan by the age of 10, but he never gave up on his love for learning and eventually went on to become one of the most famous scientists of his time.

Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to travel to space, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Prior to her space mission, Dr. Jemison was a physician and chemical engineer, and her work in these fields helped her prepare for her historic space mission. Her dedication to science and her unwavering spirit continue to inspire young girls and women to pursue careers in STEM and to strive for greatness.

Amazing fact: Dr. Jemison is not only an astronaut, but also a dancer! She loved to dance and took dance lessons while she was growing up.

Dr. Percy Julian

Dr. Percy Julian was a chemist who was known for his work on synthesizing hormones from soybeans. He faced numerous obstacles in his pursuit of a scientific career, including discrimination and limited opportunities. Despite this, he never gave up and went on to make numerous contributions to the field of chemistry. His innovations have paved the way for new treatments for numerous diseases and his legacy continues to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM.

Amazing fact: Dr. Julian was born into a family of limited means and faced many obstacles and discrimination in his pursuit of a scientific career, but he never let that stop him and went on to achieve great success.

Mark Dean

Mark Dean is a computer scientist who was one of the primary inventors of the personal computer. He is credited with several important innovations in computer technology, including the creation of the first gigahertz microprocessor. Dean’s work has transformed the world of computing and has helped to make computers more accessible to people all over the world.

Amazing fact: Mark is one of the inventors of the personal computer and has over 20 patents to his name. He is also a fan of playing the guitar and composing music in his free time.

Dr. Valerie Thomas

Dr. Valerie Thomas was a physicist and inventor who was best known for her work on developing new technologies for imaging and data processing. She was passionate about science and technology and was dedicated to finding new ways to improve our understanding of the world around us. Her contributions have helped to shape numerous fields, including medicine, astronomy, and computer science, and her legacy continues to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM.

Amazing fact: Dr. Thomas was inspired to pursue a career in science after visiting a science museum as a child. She loved the exhibits and wanted to know more about how things worked.

Dr. George Carruthers

Dr. George Carruthers is an African American physicist and inventor who made significant contributions to the field of astronomy. He invented the ultraviolet camera-spectrograph, which was used to study the structure and composition of celestial objects. This technology was used to study the lunar surface during the Apollo 16 mission, and it has since been used to study a variety of astronomical objects, including stars, galaxies, and quasars.

Amazing fact: Carruthers built his first telescope from a simple kit in the year 1949, when he was just 10. He had a fascination for space and he thoroughly enjoyed reading magazine articles about space travel.

Dr. Lonnie Johnson

Dr. Lonnie Johnson is a renowned inventor and engineer who has made significant contributions to the fields of science and technology. He is best known for inventing the Super Soaker, one of the most popular toys in history. Johnson’s passion for science and his unwavering spirit of innovation have inspired countless people to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Amazing fact: Dr. Johnson’s work on the Super Soaker wasn’t his first attempt at creating a water gun. In fact, his first attempt was a misfire that almost destroyed his bathroom!

Dr. Shirley Jackson

Dr. Shirley Jackson is an African American physicist and telecommunications researcher who made important contributions to the development of the portable fax, touch-tone telephones, and fiber optic communications systems.

Amazing fact: She is the first African American woman to receive a PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the first African American woman to head a research university in the United States.


In conclusion, the contributions made by Black individuals to STEM fields are immeasurable and deserve to be celebrated during Black History Month and beyond. From Katherine Johnson’s groundbreaking work in space science to Dr. Shirley Jackson’s pioneering work in telecommunications, these individuals have overcome adversity and paved the way for future generations to succeed in STEM. Their unwavering spirit, innovative ideas, and passion for science continue to inspire people all over the world to pursue careers in STEM and strive for greatness. As we look to the future, we must continue to support and recognize the contributions of Black individuals in STEM and work towards creating a more diverse and inclusive community in these fields.

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