Dr. Mae Jemison
Black History,  Teaching Ideas,  True Stories

Black Pioneers You Should Know: Dr. Mae Jemison

Although February is Black History Month, and March is Women’s History Month, it’s about time that all our history was every month. Black history and Women’s history are American history, and so let’s start treating them as such.

With that in mind, I am so happy to be sharing this blog about Dr. Mae Jemison. She just seems to be one of those kind of cool people that you wish you could’ve met when you were younger. She is inspirational to me now as an adult, and I think as I child learning about her and her achievements may have led me down a different path, one which as a child I thought was unattainable.

Picture Dr. Mae Jemison
Dr. Mae Jemison (NASA; Public Domain)

Here are some facts about her life:

Dr. Mae Jemison was born on October 17, 1956 in Alabama. She studied science and engineering at Stanford University, and went onto to become a doctor of medicine in 1981. Because Dr. Jemison is a specialist in engineering AND medicine, she has worked in a broad range of scientific research, including computer magnetic disc production and biology.

After working as a doctor, Dr. Jemison became the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in 1983.  In addition to managing the health care system for the Peace Corps, she also developed curriculum and gave volunteers health care training.

Dr. Jemison was selected for the astronaut program in 1987.  She has been a shuttle software analyst and has worked on launch support services at the Kennedy Space Center. Dr. Jemison was the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab-J in 1192.  As part of the US Endeavor Shuttle astronaut team she orbited the Earth 127 times while carrying out science experiments. She was the first African American female in space.

When she was a little girl growing up in Chacago she watched Star Trek and was inspired by Uhura, a woman of color who was a knowledgeable and essential scientific office. “I appreciate and love the character Uhura but I like many characters on Star Trek,” Jemison said in 2016. The show “told a lot about a hopeful future where we were able to get past our differences.” Jemison appeared on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise in a guest role as Lt. Palmer, in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Second Chances.” 

Dr. Jemison retired from the space program in 1993 but continues to inspire through her work as the principal of the 100 Year Starship project which aims to make human travel beyond our solar system a reality in the next 100 years.

Dr. Mae Jemison quote
Artwork Mandy Bledsoe Sweet Sensations Crafts

This emergent reader and craft is a bestseller in my TpT store – being able to create an astronaut and write about their own dreams makes for a winning bulletin board!

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