In the spirit of the female African-American mathematicians whose efforts to strengthen and advance the U.S. space program despite discrimination are depicted in the movie Hidden Figures, Raye Jean Jordan Montague played an important if often overlooked pioneering role when it came to military seacraft. Montague, who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1935,... Continue Reading →

Katherine Johnson was one of the pioneering National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) African-American females to be featured, along with supervisor and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan and engineer Mary Jackson, in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. (Johnson was portrayed in that Oscar-nominated film by Taraji P. Henson, with Octavia Spencer playing the part of Vaughan and... Continue Reading →

Edward Davis was among the first African-Americans to own and operate a car dealership. He was born in 1911 in Shreveport, Louisiana. At the age of 15, he went to live with an aunt in Detroit in order to have access to better educational opportunities. Davis attended Cass Technical High School in the Motor City... Continue Reading →

Frederick McKinley “Casey” Jones (1893-1961) was a Kentucky-born inventor who revolutionized and enhanced the long-distance transportation of perishable goods. The son of an African-American mother and Irish father, Jones overcame a great deal of racial discrimination and numerous other hurdles to achieve a long and prodigious career that has benefitted the lives of people worldwide.... Continue Reading →

July 26, 1997 The U.S. Navy cargo vessel USNS Watson was launched at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company’s shipyard in San Diego. U.S. Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, Jr., was the principal speaker at the ceremony and his wife Gail christened the new ship with a bottle of champagne. (The vessel’s prefix... Continue Reading →

African-American publisher Robert Sengstacke Abbott, who was born in Georgia in 1870, creatively utilized a coast-to-coast rail transportation network to disseminate and popularize his newspaper The Chicago Defender. The son of one-time slaves, Abbott launched the newspaper in the Windy City in 1905. The Chicago Defender, focusing on African-Americans and the civil rights challenges that... Continue Reading →

In 1936, Victor Hugo Green first developed an annual guide to help his fellow African-Americans more effectively and safely go on road trips despite the pervasiveness of Jim Crow laws and other forms of racial discrimination. Green, who was a World War I veteran and New York City mailman, came up with the guide to... Continue Reading →

In 1956, McKinley Thompson became the first African-American car designer for a major automobile manufacturer when the Ford Motor Company hired him. Thompson, who was born in New York City in 1922, recalled that his choice of career first took shape when he was only 12 years old. He noticed one day how sunlight broke... Continue Reading →

African-American motorcycle pioneer Bessie Stringfield was born sometime around 1911 in Kingston, Jamaica. (She was originally called Betsy Leonora Ellis, but she eventually became known as “Bessie” instead of “Betsy”; “Stringfield” was the last name of her third husband.) While born on foreign soil, she became a U.S. citizen after immigrating at a young age to Boston,... Continue Reading →

In February 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor became the first African-American to serve as a flight attendant in the United States. Her duties involved taking charge of passenger safety and comfort on a Mohawk Airlines flight from Tompkins County Airport in Ithaca, New York, to New York City. Taylor graduated as a registered nurse from the... Continue Reading →

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