Listening to Donavan Livingston’s Harvard Graduation speech reminded me of my dreams. As a kid, I use to lay on my front lawn at night and look up into the night sky. I imagined traveling to other galaxies as an astronaut. I imagined being free to explore the universe and make new discoveries on different planets. Even as a child I was a visionary. Thankfully, growing up, I knew about people who were reaching the stars and living their dreams. I now share my childhood heroes with my own children.
For instance, I admired Dr. Mae C. Jemison. The first black female astronaut who travelled into space in 1992. She was my hero. Her brown skin and globe-like afro spoke volumes to me. She reflected a part of me. She was intelligent, beautiful, graceful, feminine, and inspiring. She opened my world so that I could see places with potential far beyond my front lawn, community, city, state, and country. She also showed me through her life that you can pursue more than one dream. She defied limitations as a dancer, chemical engineer, physician, and astronaut. We need a world with more trail blazers like Mae Jamison. She saw the stars and fulfilled her dreams.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson. She entered college at only 15 years old with dreams of becoming a math teacher because she thought that was one of her only options. One of her first jobs was at Langley where she worked as a woman computer making calculations for scientists. She also helped make the calculations for John Glenn to be able to orbit the earth and for Neil Armstrong to be able to walk on the moon. Additionally, she worked to help other outer space missions as well such as the mercury project.
January 13, 2017 a new film will enter theaters “Hidden Figures.” This movie will tell the story of three African-American women whose calculations help make America’s space missions possible. The book on the right will be released on September 6, 2016, but you can preorder it now.
About the film:
“The incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae)-brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big” (source).
Guion S. Bluford was an astronaut, scientist, and a pilot. He obtained a degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State and went on to become a decorated AirForce pilot in the Vietnam war. He was the first African-American to travel into space in 1983 and went on log more than 688 hours in space.
Books to tell you more about heros who reached for the stars.
Reader Question: Who were some of your childhood heroes?