Celebrating Black History Month

“Throughout this Black History Month, we have come together to celebrate the countless contributions Black Americans have made throughout our nation’s history. As the first woman, and first African American Chair of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I especially like to recognize the ways Black Americans have furthered our American scientific enterprise. What better way to celebrate Black History Month than with historic investments to strengthen diversity in STEM, support our nation’s HBCUs, and build opportunities to create a STEM workforce that reflects the rich diversity of America. We made great strides in these efforts when we passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 in the House earlier this month. I am proud to have joined Speaker Pelosi in leading that effort and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get COMPETES to the President’s desk in the near future. The strong and bipartisan portions of COMPETES that came from the Science Committee will help ensure we have more Black American STEM leaders to celebrate for decades to come.”

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Black Scientists and Innovators Who Inspire

Vanessa Wyche is the first African American woman to serve as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. A strong advocate for strengthening STEM opportunities for all, Wyche shows rising generations that everyone has a place at our impressive scientific institutions.

Katherine Johnson’s calculations were pivotal to the early success of our Nation’s space program. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her work at NASA after Chairwoman Johnson led the passage of the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act.

Dr. Alexa Canady was the first African American woman in the US to become a neurosurgeon. Inspired by a research program for minority students, Dr. Canady fell in love with medicine. She later became chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Gladys West was integral to the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). As an extremely skilled mathematician and computer programmer, West’s calculations helped construct a mathematical model of the shape of the Earth.

We also remember the legacy of Edward Bouchet — the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from an American university. After earning his Ph.D. in Physics from Yale in 1876, Dr. Bouchet went on to teach and lead Black Americans pursuing science.

Guy Bluford was the first African American in space. One of three African Americans in the barrier-breaking 1978 class of astronauts, Bluford went on to fly aboard 4 shuttle missions.

We recognize the incredible career of Dr. Donald Hopkins. As a doctor & public health professional, Dr. Hopkins was key in successfully eradicating Smallpox in Sierra Leone and has now dedicated his career to the eradication of Guinea worm disease.

Dr. Marie Daly was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in chemistry. Dr. Daly went on to develop a career as a professor, researcher, and leader in developing programs to increase the enrollment of minority students in medical & science programs.

In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the 1st African American woman to travel into space. A doctor, engineer, and NASA astronaut, Dr. Jemison is an inspiration to anyone looking to reach for the stars.

Annie Easley was one of only four African-American employees when she was hired as a “human computer” at NASA’s Aircraft Engine Research Lab in 1955. Throughout her career Easley was dedicated to increasing female and minority participation in STEM.

As we highlight the contributions of Black Americans in STEM, we recognize Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson who is the 1st African American and woman to chair the Science Committee. Thank you, Chairwoman Johnson, for your leadership & tireless work to increase diversity in STEM.

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U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

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