Celebrating Black Excellence in STEAM: Durham’s Trailblazing Leaders 
Posted on 02.26.2024, Monday

As we commemorate Black History Month, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate the remarkable contributions of Black leaders in various fields. The Black community has a wealth of talent and innovation across Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). Today, we shine a light on some of the trailblazing Black leaders who have significantly impacted these disciplines, shaping our community and inspiring future generations. 

Science: Dr. Mae Jemison 

Dr. Mae Jemison is a pioneering figure in the field of science. As the first African American woman to travel in space, Dr. Jemison broke barriers and inspired countless individuals to pursue careers in STEM. Beyond her remarkable achievement as an astronaut, she is also a physician, engineer, and educator. Dr. Jemison’s dedication to advancing scientific knowledge and promoting diversity in STEM serves as an inspiration to us all. 

Technology: Kimberly Bryant 

Kimberly Bryant is the founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, an organization dedicated to empowering young girls of color to become innovators and leaders in the field of technology. Through hands-on workshops and mentorship programs, Bryant is equipping the next generation with the skills and confidence to excel in tech-related fields. Her advocacy for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is paving the way for a more equitable future. 

Engineering: Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson 

Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson is a trailblazing aerospace engineer whose groundbreaking work has left an indelible mark on the field. As the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, Dr. Ericsson-Jackson has worked at NASA for over two decades, contributing to missions such as the Mars Exploration Rovers and the James Webb Space Telescope. Her dedication to excellence and perseverance in the face of adversity serve as an inspiration to aspiring engineers everywhere. 

Art: Kerry James Marshall 

Kerry James Marshall is a renowned artist whose work explores themes of race, identity, and history. Through his powerful paintings, Marshall challenges societal norms and confronts issues of representation within the art world. His contributions to contemporary art have earned him widespread acclaim, including a MacArthur Fellowship and numerous museum exhibitions. Marshall’s commitment to addressing social issues through his art serves as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and reflection. 

Mathematics: Dr. Edray Goins 

Dr. Edray Goins is a distinguished mathematician and educator whose work spans a wide range of areas within mathematics, including number theory and algebraic geometry. As a professor at Pomona College, Dr. Goins is dedicated to fostering the next generation of mathematicians, particularly students from underrepresented backgrounds. His advocacy for diversity in mathematics and commitment to mentorship are helping to create a more inclusive and vibrant mathematical community. 

In celebrating these remarkable individuals, we honor not only their individual achievements but also their collective impact on our community and the world at large. Their resilience, creativity, and dedication serve as beacons of inspiration for us all, reminding us of the importance of diversity and inclusion in STEAM fields. As we continue to strive for progress and excellence, let us draw inspiration from these trailblazers and work together to build a brighter future for generations to come. 

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