Jonathan D. Farley

Jonathan D Farley

Guyanese-Jamaican Jonathan D. Farley is an associate professor at Morgan State University.  In 2005 Seed Magazine named Dr. Farley one of “15 people who have shaped the global conversation about science in 2005.”

Jonathan D Farley
Jonathan D Farley

Dr. Jonathan David Farley has been a Visiting Professor of Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University, and a Visiting Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Farley graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1991 with the second-highest grade point average in his graduating class. (He earned 29 A’s and 3 A-’s.) While there, he won, among other awards, Harvard’s Wendell Prize, for the “most promising and catholic [small ‘c’] sophomore scholar.” He obtained his doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University in 1995, after winning Oxford’s highest mathematics awards, the Senior Mathematical Prize and Johnson University Prize, in 1994. In 2001-2002, he was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar to the United Kingdom. He was one of only four Americans to win this award in 2001-2002.

He received tenure at Vanderbilt University in 2003, but fled Tennessee after receiving death threats from supporters of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

Dr. Farley is the 2004 recipient of the Harvard Foundation’s Distinguished Scientist of the Year Award, a medal presented on behalf of the president of Harvard University in recognition of “outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of mathematics.” The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts (home to both Harvard University and MIT) officially declared March 19, 2004 to be “Dr. Jonathan David Farley Day.” In 2004, Dr. Farley was recruited to serve as Head of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at The University of the West Indies (Jamaica).

As if his career is not exciting enough, his work applying mathematics to counter-terrorism has been profiled in The Chronicle of Higher Education, in Science News and Science News Online, in The Economist Magazine, in USA Today, on Fox News Television, and on Air America Radio. He is Chief Scientist of Phoenix Mathematics, Inc., a company that develops mathematical solutions to homeland security-related problems. He has had face-to-face meetings discussing math-for-counter-terrorism with the Jamaican Minister of National Security, a former Director of the US National Security Agency and a former Deputy Director of the CIA, the director of Homeland Security for the Port of Los Angeles, a former US ambassador to the European Union, a former governor of the US state of New Mexico, a US Air Force general, two US Navy admirals and a former US Director of National Intelligence.

He founded Hollywood Math and Science Film Consulting. He wrote to the staff of Numb3rs, suggesting that they, in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, create homework assignments that teachers could use focusing on the math and science in the show. Nine months later, Numb3rs inaugurated the “We All Use Math Every Day” program, with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Texas Instruments. This program creates homework assignments that teachers can use focusing on the math and science in the show. Dr. Farley also used his idea with Dr. Tony Harkin for Flatland the Movie, starring Martin Sheen, Michael York, and Kristen Bell.

Jonathan Farley has also worked with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and the Algebra Project.  Jonathan Farley co-founded the consulting group Axum Educational Solutions.   He started Peren Linn Fashion, a line of math themed clothes for girls, with Frau Peren Linn and Girls Equal, a nonprofit with Ms. Mira Alden, to ignite interest in girls in the area of higher mathematics.

He is also involved with Equations of Peace which is a STEM cross cultural initiative.”

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Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

African-American Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is a mathematician who calculated orbital mechanics as a NASA employee. The calculations were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. In her 35 years as NASA employee, she mastered complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

According to Wikipedia, Johnson’s work included calculating trajectories, launch windows and emergency return paths for Project Mercury spaceflights, including those of astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American in orbit, and rendezvous paths for the Apollo lunar lander and command module on flights to the Moon. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johnson graduated from high school at 14 and entered West Virginia State, where she took every math class they had to offer. Here professors included chemist and mathematician Angie Turner King, who had also mentored the girl throughout high school, and W.W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to receive a PhD in math. Katherine graduated summa cum laude in 1937 with degrees in mathematics and French, at age 18.

She was the first African-American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University and became one of three African-American students, and the only female, selected to integrate the graduate school. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was hiring mathematicians so she applied and was hired. From 1953 to 1958, Johnson analyzed topics such as gust alleviation for aircraft. From 1958 until her retirement in 1986, Johnson worked as an aerospace technologist, moving during her career to the Spacecraft Controls Branch. She calculated the trajectory for the May 5, 1961 space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space. She also calculated the launch window for his 1961 Mercury mission. She plotted backup navigation charts for astronauts in case of electronic failures. When NASA used electronic computers for the first time to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, officials called on Johnson to verify the computer’s numbers; Glenn had asked for her specifically and had refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations.

Johnson later worked directly with digital computers. Her ability and reputation for accuracy helped to establish confidence in the new technology. Later in her career, Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle program, the Earth Resources Satellite, and on plans for a mission to Mars.

Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince Rogers Nelson

African-American Prince Rogers Nelson, better known simply as Prince, was a music icon who could play 12 different instruments.

Prince Rogers Nelson
Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince released his debut album, ‘For You‘, at the age of 19.  His second album, ‘Prince’, went platinum and was followed by ‘Dirty Mind’, ‘Controversy’ and ‘1999‘.  In he released ‘Purple Rain’, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name.  It was immensely popular and sealed him as one of the most unique and gifted musicians of this age.  He played all the instruments on his first five albums and did a majority of the vocals on them. His musical range and style were popular and “Little Red Corvette” was also among the first videos by a black performer to be played regularly on MTV.

Prince penned 15 albums in all; sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time; on seven Grammy Awards; won a Golden Globe Award; won an Academy Award; was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004;  in 2006 Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his “visionary” use of the Internet; and was ranked number 27 on Rolling Stones’ list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The ‘Purple Rain’ album is ranked 72nd in Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and is also included on the list of Time magazine’s All-Time 100 Albums. The ‘Purple Rain’ album sold more than 13 million copies in the US and spent 24 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The film won Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.

Fiercely independent, and determined to own his brand and control its direction, he held tight rein over his music, not allowing it on regular social media outlets or streaming outlets. This meant that the only real way to own a Prince song or record, was to buy it. Prince formed the band The Time and they released four albums.  His backup band was called the Revolution whose members later went on to solo music careers.  Prince penned songs for other artists including Madonna and Terence Campbell.

But perhaps the best part of Prince was the one he shared with people behind the scenes.  He helped so many people who were less fortunate than he, was compassionate and caring to many around him, and inspired many to make a difference in the situations around him.  When Trayvon Martin was killed, he donated money to the family. He helped many communities in times of need and poured money into disadvantaged youth. Prince was the inspiration behind Yes We Code, his current project helping bring tech education to communities of color. “We started Yes We Code because of Trayvon Martin,” Jones explained. “Prince said, ‘No, listen. A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug; a white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.’ Out of that observation, we built a whole organization.” (Source: http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/tv/2016/04/21/van-jones-remembers-music-legend-prince.cnn

Tristan Walker

Tristan Walker

African-American Tristan Walker is the Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands.

Bevel by Walker & Company
Bevel by Walker & Company

Prior to that he was the Director of Business Development for Foursquare, where he oversaw strategic partnerships and monetization. In this role, Tristan managed intergrations with large brands and media entities including American Express, The New York Times, CNN, MTV, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Starbucks.

He was named the USA Today Person of the Year in 2014, Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful People list, Vanity Fair’s “Next Establishment,” Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, AdAge Creative 50, The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power 50, and Black Enterprise’s 40 Next. He is also the Founder and Chairman of CODE2040, a program that matches high performing black and latino undergraduate and graduate coders and software engineering students with Silicon Valley start-ups for summer internships.

In 2015, Walker & Company Brands inked a deal with Target to sell its flagship product, Bevel, in select Target stores in the United States and on Target.com. Bevel is a single-blade razor system for men and women with coarse, curly hair which addresses the problem of razor bumps and skin irritation that affects up to 80% of African Americans and up to 30% of people of other races.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stony Brook University, where he graduated as valedictorian, and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Sterling Ashby

Sterling Ashby

African-American Sterling Ashby is an attorney who created the toy company, History In Action Toys.

History In Action Toys
History In Action Toys

Ashby graduated from Columbia Law School in 1999 and practiced for a number of years at one of the nation’s premier law firms. Inspired to create a series of action figures using African-American heroes from history, whose stories would awaken the imagination and inspire children to dream their own superhero adventures, he formed History In Action Toys, offering the likes of Benjamin Banneker, Bessie Coleman, and Matthew P. Henson to children everywhere.

The toys are available at about 25 museums around the country, as well as online, and Ashby has plans to diversify his inventory in the future. He has already had multiple requests to mold various historical innovators, like the first Russian cosmonaut, into pliable action figures.

For more information on History in Action Toys, visit the official website.

Update: Sterling Todd Ashby, 48, died peacefully in his sleep after a long struggle with brain cancer on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.  Rest in peace.

Mae C. Jemison

Mae Jemison

African-American Dr. Mae C. Jemison speaks 3 languages (Russian, Swahili, Japanese) and is an American physician and NASA astronaut.

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison

She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

She is a dancer, and holds nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. In addition to this she has also choreographed and produced several shows of modern jazz and African dance.

In 1993 Jemison founded her own company, the Jemison Group that researches, markets, and develops science and technology for daily life; and the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, named in honor of her mother. One of the projects of Jemison’s foundation is The Earth We Share (TEWS), an international science camp where students, ages 12 to 16, work to solve current global problems.

In 1999, Jemison founded BioSentient Corp and has been working to develop a portable device that allows mobile monitoring of the involuntary nervous system. BioSentient has obtained the license to commercialize NASA’s space-age technology known as Autogenic Feedback Training Exercise (AFTE), a patented technique that uses biofeedback and autogenic therapy to allow patients to monitor and control their physiology as a possible treatment for anxiety and stress-related disorders. BioSentient is examining AFTE as a treatment for anxiety, nausea, migraine and tension headaches, chronic pain, hypertension and hypotension, and stress-related disorders.

In 2012, Jemison made the winning bid for the DARPA 100 Year Starship project through the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence. The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence was awarded a $500,000 grant for further work. The new organization maintained the organizational name 100 Year Starship. Jemison is the current principal of the 100 Year Starship.

She was the first real astronaut ever to appear on Star Trek as Lieutenant Palmer in the episode “Second Chances

Mikaila Ulmer

Mikalia Ulmer

African-American Mikaila Ulmer is an 11-year-old on a mission.

Mikalia Ulmer
Mikalia Ulmer

She started BeeSweet Lemonade at the age of 4 for a Children’s business competition (the Acton Children’s Business Fair) and Austin Lemonade Day. She now sells-out of her BeeSweet Lemonade at youth entrepreneurial events while donating a percentage of the profits from the sale of her lemonade to local and international organizations fighting hard to save the honeybees. That is why she touts: Buy a Bottle…Save a Bee.

At the age of 10, she landed a $60,000 Shark Tank Deal and her lemondade is in 55 Whole Food stores in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, and is available at a growing number of restaurants, food trailers and natural food delivery companies..

Maya Penn

Maya Penn

African-American Maya Penn is a serial entrepreneur who started her first company at the age of 8.

Maya Penn
Maya Penn

Maya Penn first came up with a cartoon called “Malicious Dishes“, an animated series about computer viruses, after trying to clean viruses off her computer. She thought, “What if viruses in my computer have personalities?”, and drew an animation about the stories of these viruses, who travel via USB drives around a computer world that humans are unaware of. Penn also drew another series called “The Pollinators” about bees and other pollinators and their impact on the environment.

At 10-years-old, she realized that all her work came from ideas, she set up her website, Maya’s Ideas, which she coded on her own by learning basic HTML.

This homeschooled entrepreneur has been on Forbes’ list of “Sixteen Grade School Entrepreneurs”, been featuredon CNN, Wired, Essence, NPR, The View, Redbook, Ebony, Fox 5, IBM, Black Enterprise, and more.  Now 15, she is working on a project with her nonprofit where she has created eco-friendly sanitary pads for girls in developing countries. MedShare has partnered with her to distribute the pads.   Her latest book, ‘You Got This’ helps guide budding entrepreneurs on ways to find their path and change the world.

Learn more about her on her official website.

Jani Toivola

Jani Toivola

In 2011, Jani Toivola was voted a Member of the Finnish Parliament making him the first black, gay member.

Jani Toivola
Jani Toivola

The son of a Finnish mother and Kenyan father, he studied in HB Acting Studio, New York in 1999–2002. He was also the first black actor of note.

He’s been the host of ‘Idol’, Finland’s version of American Idol, a contestant on Finland’s version of Dancing With the Stars, and he’s been a spokesman for the Finnish Tourist Board, explaining what’s cool about Finland. He starred in ‘Heart Of A Lion’, a story about a local skinhead honcho, Teppo (Peter Franzén), who falls fast and hard for the beautiful, blond Sari (Laura Birn). The problem — she has a biracial young son named Rahmu (Yusufa Sidibeh) and an ex (Jani Toivola) who stops by often to see his son.

You can learn more about him on his official website and learn more about his story in this interview with PRI.

Mary Oyaya

Mary Oyaya

Kenyan-Australian Mary Oyaya played the role of Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

MaryOyaya2

A modern renaissance woman, she has two masters degrees (International Relations, and International Social Development); has worked with NGOs on behalf of refugees in Australia; and has modeled for Gucci, Chanel, Sergio Rossi, and Salvatore Serragamo among others.

She has also been an extra in the movies–Lost Souls, Down and Under, and Farscape.