Katherine G. Johnson is African American mathematician and physicist. In 1969 she calculated the flight path for NASA’s historic Apollo space mission to the moon. Employed by NASA for over 30 years, she retired from in 1986.
Johnson’s love for math dates back to her childhood. She recalls that she loved to “count everything”. A gifted student, she graduated from high school at age 14.
On November 24, 2015, she was one of 17 individuals to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is truly a pioneer! She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc! We salute you Soror Jackson!! Well done!
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The term, “Mississippi Appendectomy” was popularized by Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. It refers to involuntary sterilization procedures that were performed on African American women. While having surgery to remove a tumor, in 1961 Hamer was given a hysterectomy without her knowledge or consent by a white doctor as a part of the state of Mississippi’s plan to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state. Hysterectomies or tubal ligations were performed on many other poor black women against their will and without their knowledge. Due to rampant discrimination and prejudice there was a belief that certain individuals of color or poor women in general were “unfit” to reproduce.
These forced/coerced sterilizations took place across the country but were considered particularly frequent in the deep south. Poor women, women with physical disabilities, or characteristics for which physicians deemed these women “unfit to reproduce” were often targeted for sterilization. Poor white women and Native Americans were also subjected to these types of coercive sterilization practices. Women outside the U.S. were also subjected to these involuntary sterilization procedures.
Artist Annie Frances Lee (1935-2014) was born in Gadsen, Alabama and grew up in Chicago, IL. She began painting as a young girl and won her first art competition at age 10. Lee was offered a four year scholarship to Northwestern University after high school. However, she married instead and began to raise a family. Tragedy struck Lee with the death of her 1st and 2nd husbands with whom she had 2 children; a daughter and a son respectively. It would not be until age 40 that she would begin to pursue a career as an artist. Lee took night classes for 8 years to earn her masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts Education from Loyola University. She also worked full time at Northwestern Railroad while going to school. Her employment with Northwestern Railroad inspired one of her most popular paintings, Blue Monday. The painting features a woman struggling to get out of bed on a Monday morning. Lee described Blue Monday as her “self portrait’.
Lee held her first gallery show in 1985 at age 50. The show was highly successful for Lee and she sold all her available pieces at the show within 4 hours. In addition to artwork, Lee also had some of her most popular paintings produced as figurines, dolls, and housewares. A hallmark of Lee’s artistic style, was that faces in her artwork were painted without features. Following the death of her son in 1986, Lee decided to pursue an art career full time. She eventually opened her own gallery, “Annie Lee and Friends Gallery”. Her own artwork as well as the artwork of friends was displayed there. Several of her paintings were part of the sets for popular shows and films such as 227, Coming To America and A Different World. The appearance of her work on these shows greatly increased her exposure. Lee died in Las Vegas on November 14, 2014 at the age of 79.