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Celebrating the Unsung Heros of Science and Black History

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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During my school years, I was excited about Black History Month. I was very fortunate to have a host of culturally-aware teachers who gleefully threaded lessons of Black Achievement through out all of my subjects. To cap the entire month out, we had a school-wide assembly that was a big celebration of all of the heros in Language Arts, Science, Invention, and Civil Rights we learned about in our classes.

Even now, I still search for ways to celebrate past and present achievers in Black History each February (as well as Women’s History, Native American, and Asian-Pacific Islander for those corresponding months). When I taught high school, students had to complete reports on African-American Scientists. So many of them instinctively named George Washington Carver – an awesome man and no doubt a leader -but  it was so hard to get them to see that African-Americans have continued to be apart of science and our contributions to science and society still occur today. With African-Americans comprising less than 10% of this nation’s (USA) workforce, I can understand them not being able to readily identify many scientists and engineers. There are so many examples of Living Black History all around; and the achievements of these scientists and engineers are still worth celebrating.

The NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, is calling for nominations in The Unsung Heroes Campaign. From the nomination announcement:

We join the nation in honoring great African-Americans in history, but we also celebrate the everyday heroes who may not make the history books.
The unsung heroes. The special people in our lives making our neighborhoods and communities a better place.

The Unsung Heroes campaign harkens the words spoken by civil rights activist Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History” who founded the Black History Week back in 1926:
“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
Woodson sought to bring the overlooked and under appreciated work of African-Americans to light, ensuring the contributions of our communities to the nation and the world received the recognition they deserved and that we know from whence we came.

Please join me and nominate an unsung hero and achiever in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). By recognizing the individuals work to save lives, innovate, make new discoveries, improve and problem solve the most critical crises we experience today we help pave the way for future science achievers of tomorrow.

Nomination is very simple. Just share a short paragraph naming your Unsung Hero and explaining why you are nominating him/her.  This is a recognition program to honor heros that are apart of our communities today, living and working along side us in our communities today. We want to celebrate these unsung heros and shine light on what they do. You can upload a photo and url of a video of your nominee, optional. But that’s it. Here is the link to the nomination form.

Thank you,

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. tuned 11:08 am 02/7/2014

    George Washington Carver .

    Link to this
  2. 2. curiouswavefunction 11:57 am 02/7/2014

    I nominate Percy Julian, the first African-American chemist to be elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. PBS made a nice documentary about him a couple of years ago.

    Link to this

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