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.

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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.

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

Kenyan-American Thomas Baptist Morello, better known as Tom Morello, is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist best known for his tenure with the bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and as the acoustic artist, The Nightwatchman.

Tom Morello (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA – SEPTEMBER 06: Guitarist Tom Morello performs onstage during ‘Rock Out!’ at Ford Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

He was featured as one of 20 guitarists in Rolling Stone magazine’s “The Top 20 New Guitarists” article.

An outspoken political activist, he is also ranked #40 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and is featured in the video game ‘Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock’ as a “guitar boss”. Morello played on a number of soundtracks, including Spawn (1997), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Spider-Man (2002), The A-Team, Battleship and  Pacific Rim in 2013. He was credited as “Additional Electric Guitar” in the 2008 superhero movie Iron Man and played a terrorist. He also appears in the movie Berkeley (2005). He also collaborated with John Debney for the score of Iron Man 2.

Interestingly, Tom Morello is the son of Ngethe Njoroge  who was a Mau Mau guerrilla and revolutionary. Morello’s great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenya. His mother, Mary Morello, who is part Irish and part Italian, is a founder of Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship group.

The man has a discography list that reads like a book sowe will let you read all about him on Wikipedia.

Atieno Williams

Atieno Williams

Kenyan-American Atieno Okelo Williams is Co-Owner of DC Home Buzz, one of the most exciting new real estate companies in Washington DC.

AtienoWilliams2

DC Home Buzz provides Real Estate Brokerage services. They help people find the home of their dreams or to sell their current home. Their focus is on educating the community about the process of purchasing or selling their home, and making sound financial decisions during this process. In the past few years, they have expanded to include rental property management, renovation services and property development.

She received  the Jones New York Empowerment fund award in 2011 and plans to use it to establish a curriculum and a series of ongoing workshops that will help homeless women and women in transitional housing to reach the dream of housing independence by teaching them financial basics and then by building on that foundation of knowledge. She plans to use her non-profit arm, Buzz Hopes to achieve this goal.

She is an alumna of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women that works to increase diversity in the U.S. angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. Since April 2011, Pipeline Fellowship’s angel investing boot camp has trained more than 80 women, who have committed more than US$400,000 in investment, as stated on Pipeline Fellowship’s website.

Follow DC Home Buzz on Facebook  and visit their website to find out more about home ownership.

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Regina Carter

Regina Carter

African-American Regina Carter began studying violin at the age of 4, but could play the piano by ear at the age of 2. She also studied tap and ballet.

Regina Carter
Regina Carter

As a teenager, she played in the youth division of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In high school, Carter performed with the Detroit Civic Orchestra and played in a pop-funk group named Brainstorm.

In addition to taking violin lessons, she also took viola, oboe, and choir lessons.
In December 2001, Regina Carter became the first non-classical musician to play Niccolo Paganini’s highly guarded, handcrafted Guarneri violin , an instrument that dates back to 1743 and is counted among the most precious items in classical music history. Carter was invited to play after the incidents of the September 11 attacks as a gesture of solidarity.

She was both the first jazz musician and first African-American to play the instrument. She used it to record 2003’s ‘Paganini: After a Dream’, an homage to the musician who first owned it that incorporated bop and Latin-inspired arrangements reflecting the violin’s 260-year-old history.

Regina Carter was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant, also known as a “genius grant,” in September 2006. The award includes a grant of $500,000 over five years.

Her latest album, ‘Southern Comfort‘ has her taking her audience on a journey through her family history as it explores the folk music of the south.

Learn more about her on her official website and on Twitter.