doctor of ophthalmology, inventor, medical researcher, and advocate for social equity in health care, was born in Harlem, New York, the daughter of Rupert and Gladys Bath. A one-time merchant marine and global traveler, her father emigrated from Trinidad, taking a position as the first black motorman for the New York City subways, and her mother, a descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Indians, Bath tells her biographers, “was a housewife who worked as a domestic after we entered middle school. … She scrubbed floors so I could go to medical school” (Davidson). A brilliant student, Bath attended New York's Charles Evans Hughes High School and in 1959 was selected for a National Science Foundation summer program at Yeshiva University. Working on a cancer research team, Bath demonstrated the future potential of her work in science and medicine and was recognized as one of Mademoiselle magazine s Merit Award ...
Pamela C. Edwards
Clare J. Washington
pilot, who made aviation history when she became the first African American woman to fly for a major passenger airline in the United States, the first to be admitted to the U.S. Navy's flight school, and the first in U.S. military history to qualify as a pilot.
Brown was born in Millersville, Maryland. Her family had taken up aviation as a hobby, and she learned to fly small planes with her parents—Gilbert Brown, who was a former U.S. Air Force instrument mechanic and also owned a building construction business, and Elaine Brown, an art resource teacher in the Baltimore public schools—when she was seventeen years old. For her eighteenth birthday, she received a Cherokee 180D airplane. In 1967 Brown flew her first solo flight in a Piper J 3 Cub She had always dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot but her mother advised her otherwise and ...
Courtney L. Young
astronaut and educator. Mae Jemison is best known as the first African American woman in space, but this simple statement does not speak adequately to the greatness of her attributes and skills. Born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama, Jemison, with her mother, her father, and two older siblings, moved to Chicago in 1959. Jemison was deeply interested in science and nature. She cultivated that interest independently by reading evolutionary theory and astronomy, as well as in the classroom by taking classes in biology, chemistry, and physics. An honors student, Jemison graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1973. That fall she attended Stanford University on a National Achievements Scholarship. She earned both her BS in chemical engineering and a second bachelor's degree in Afro-American studies in 1977. Jemison then went to Cornell University Medical School, where she earned her MD in 1981 She completed her ...
Pamela C. Edwards
entrepreneur, inventor, and activist, was born in Monterey, Virginia, to George Emmanuel Stewart, a teacher, and Annie Dougherty Stewart, a housewife. The couple had thirteen children, but only four daughters lived beyond infancy. After relocating their family to Dayton, Ohio, Stewart's parents divorced and, in 1912, she moved to Chicago to live with her mother. In Chicago, Stewart attended Edgewood High School, worked temporary jobs, and, on 4 April 1916, she married Dr. Robert Joyner, a podiatrist from Memphis, Tennessee. The couple had two daughters: Anne Joyner Fook and Barbara Joyner Powell, who both became educators. At some point during her early Chicago years, Stewart made the decision to become a beautician and that decision would shape her future.
Joyner became the first black graduate of the A.B. Molar Beauty School in 1916 and she opened her own beauty shop ...
Jeannette Elizabeth Brown
chemist and corporate leader, was born in Pavo, Georgia, the second of three daughters of Willie Clark and Ola Watts Campbell. Her mother Ola had a third-grade education, and her father Willie was illiterate. Reatha was raised in Moltrie, Georgia, by her mother and aunt after her parents separated when she was young. She had to pick cotton and do the heavy fieldwork that was the typical life in the 1940s for poor sharecroppers' children. African American girls in the rural segregated South had few role models, but she received strong encouragement from her family and community to use her academic ability to overcome social disadvantages.
Clark started school at the age of four in the one room schoolhouse at Mount Zion Baptist Church Clark attended the segregated Moultrie High School for Negro Youth A teacher there encouraged her love of math and science even though the school ...
Olivia A. Scriven
mathematician, educator, and activist, was born Vivienne Lucille Malone in Waco, Texas. Her parents, Pizarro Ray Malone and Vera Estelle (Allen) Malone, both worked as public school teachers and stressed the importance of education as a pathway to advancement and opportunity.
After graduating from the racially segregated A.J. Moore High School in 1948 at the age of sixteen, young Vivienne attended Fisk University, a historically black institution in Nashville, Tennessee. She wanted to become a doctor and might have achieved that goal had she not met and married James Jeffries Mayes, a dental student. Her husband-to-be convinced her that the professional demands of two doctors in the family would be a strain on them personally. So she switched her major from pre-med to mathematics. The decision proved fortuitous. During her junior year in 1950 the university hired two mathematicians who would serve as mentors ...
Douglas Fleming Roosa
teacher, aviator, and flight instructor, was born Ida Van Larkin in Lumberton, North Carolina, to Theodore D. Larkin, a businessman, and Martha J. Keith, a housewife and seamstress. Ida Van's love for flying began in childhood when her father took her to the airfield to watch the barnstormers who toured the country in the 1920s. But when her father tried to get someone to teach her to fly he was told that there were no instructors. Smith was an intelligent, eager student who graduated as valedictorian in 1934 from the Redstone Academy, a private Presbyterian school for blacks. That fall she entered the Barber Scotia Junior College in Concord, North Carolina, and later attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated in 1938 from Shaw with a degree in education.
After graduation she took a job as a schoolteacher in Marietta North Carolina ...