Shirley Ann Jackson was born August 5, 1946 in Washington D.C. Her parents strongly valued education and encouraged her in school. At Roosevelt High School, Jackson attended accelerated programs in both math and science, and graduated in 1964 as valedictorian. Jackson began classes at MIT in 1964, one of fewer than 20 African-American students and […]

Neil deGrasse Tyson was born October 5, 1958 in Manhattan and was raised in the Bronx. Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science where he was captain of the wrestling team and editor-in-chief of the school’s Physical Science Journal. He obsessively studied astronomy in his teens, and eventually even gained some fame in the […]

Forest Steven Whitaker was born July 15, 1961 in Longview, Texas.   He was awarded The NAACP Chairman’s Award at the 45th NAACP Image Awards this past Saturday.  His acceptance speech can be seen here.–forest-whitaker-s-amazing-speech.html. Whitaker moved to Carson, California when he was four. He attended Cal Poly Pomona on a football scholarship, but due to a […]

Edward Alexander Bouchet was born in 1852 in New Haven, Connecticut. At that time there were only three schools in New Haven open to Black children. Bouchet was enrolled in the Artisan Street Colored School which had only one teacherand she nurtured Bouchet's academic abilities. He attended the New Haven High Schoolfrom 1866 to 1868 […]

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was born January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, the 10th of 13 children.  When Coleman was two years old her family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, where she lived until age 23. Coleman began attending school in Waxahachie at age six and had to walk four miles each day to her segregated, one-room […]

Ernest Everett Just was born on August 14, 1883 in Charleston, South Carolina. Because high schools in the South provided such poor education at that time for African-American children, Just’s mother decided to send him North to receive better schooling. Through hard work, Ernest was able to earn enough money to attend the Kimball Academy […]

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens was born September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama, the youngest of 10 children. J.C., as he was called, was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio for better opportunities. When his new teacher asked his name he said “J.C.”, but because of his strong Southern accent, she thought […]

Patricia Era Bath was born on November 4, 1942, in Harlem, New York. Her mother encouraged her to read constantly and broadened Bath’s interest in science by buying her a chemistry set. Bath attended Charles Evans Hughes High School in New York where she served as editor of the school’s science paper. In 1959, she was […]

Elijah J. McCoy, born May 2, 1844, was a Black Canadian–American inventor and engineer.  McCoy was born  to George and Mildred McCoy who had escaped from Kentucky to Canada via the Underground Railroad.  In 1847, the family returned to the U.S., settling in Ypsilanti, Michigan.   At age 15, McCoy traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland for an […]

Matthew Alexander Henson was the first African-American Arctic explorer, an associate of Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly twenty-three years. At the age of twelve, Henson made his way to Baltimore, Maryland, where he went to sea as a cabin boy on a merchant ship named Katie Hines. Henson sailed around […]