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Mae Jemison was born on this date in 1956. She is a Black astronaut and physician.
Mae Carol Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, but raised in Chicago, the youngest of three children. Her parents, Dorothy and Charlie Jemison, encouraged, stimulated, and supported the many interests of their children. She loved to read and to dance. She enjoyed science fiction, pure science, and learning about the formation of the universe. She graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1973 and entered Stanford University as a scholarship student at age 16.
After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and an A.B. in African and Afro-American studies, she earned her doctorate in medicine at Cornell University's Medical College. Before joining NASA in 1987, Dr. Jemison worked in both engineering and medicine. As the science mission specialist on the STS-47 Space lab J flight, a US/Japan joint mission, she conducted experiments in life sciences, material sciences, and co-investigated the Bone Cell Research experiment. In 1992, Space lab J flight was a successful joint U.S. and Japanese science mission, making Mae Jemison the first Black woman in space.
After serving six years as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut, Dr. Jemison left NASA in 1993 to start The Jemison Group, Inc., which focused on the beneficial integration of science and technology into daily life. In 1994, Dr. Jemison founded and chairs The Earth We Share (TEWS), an annual international science camp where students, ages 12 to 16, work together to solve current global dilemmas. The four-week residential program builds critical thinking and problem-solving skills through an experiential curriculum. She also directs the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries.
She has received many awards and honors, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Jemison also holds a number of honorary doctorates. She serves on several corporate boards of directors as well as on the Texas Governor’s State Council for Science and Biotechnology Development. Her first book was “Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life,” 2001. Dr. Jemison loves cats and lives in Houston.
Dr. Jemison speaks nationally and globally on vital 21st-century issues including science literacy; sustainable development; education; achieving excellence; the importance of increased involvement of women and minorities in science and technology fields; and investing in the present to secure the future.
She took part in the Michigan State University's lecture series, "Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey," in February 2017. In May 2017, Jemison gave the commencement speech at Rice University. She discussed the 100 Year Plan, science and education, and other topics at Western Michigan University also in May 2017.
In 2017, LEGO released the "Women of NASA" set, with Minifigures of Jemison. The Google Doodle on March 8, 2019 (International Women's Day) featured a quote from Jemison: "Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations."
Black Heroes of The Twentieth Century
Edited by Jessie Carney Smith
Copyright 1998 Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI