Celebrating Black History Month

Black History Month is here! The month of February was declared to be “Black History Month,” which was first observed on the second week of February in 1926. The dates selected correlated with both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas’ birthdays. The Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, was also founded in February of 1909. At its core, Black History Month is a celebration of the achievements of African Americans throughout history. Today, we’ll take a look at some remarkable African American Scientists and their achievements throughout history. 

Percy Julian

Percy Julian was a remarkable individual. Born in 1899, he was a grandchild to slaves. Percy grew up in Montgomery Alabama, where he would be unable to attend High School. This was because the area at the time lacked a black or integrated Highschool. Thriving through adversity, he would attend DePauw University in Indiana. Percy went on to be a lab instructor at Fisk University, before being accepted to Harvard with a full scholarship. He then achieved a Ph.D. in Austria. After school, he wanted to leave academics and applied as a chemist at several established chemical companies. Most jobs were denied because of his race. Eventually, he developed something called “Aero Foam,” with the Glidden Company. The product was very effective at eliminating gas fires. With some security, he established his own laboratory called Julian Laboratories, building it from the ground up. In 1961, he would sell his laboratory making him one of the first black millionaires.

Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Jackson was born in Washington D.C in 1946. Inspired by the space race, she desires to have an impact in the scientific field. After school, Shirley applied to MIT and was accepted. Shirley was 1 of 2 women in her class, and one of the first black individuals to attend the school. Eventually, she received a Ph.D. degree in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics. She is the first female to graduate with a Ph.D. to do so in school history. After school, she worked as a theoretical physicist at a variety of different places. Throughout the 70s, she worked on a theory to change particle density in the first and second dimensions. Theoretical Physics is considered an astoundingly complex subject matter, and she is considered among the best to study it. She was appointed the president of the National Society of Black Physicists, MIT board of trustees, and numerous other prestigious cabinet positions. Today, she still holds many of these positions. Her achievements, discoveries, and contributions are far too vast to cover in a single blog post.

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