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Honoring “La Majestad Negra”:  Sylvia del Villard, Afro-Puerto Rican Actress, Singer, Dancer,  Orator, And Activist

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Sylvia del Villard (1928-1990)


Sylvia Del Villard (1928 – 1990) was an Afro-Puerto Rican dancer, singer, choreographer, activist, and orator. She took great pride in her dark skin and Afro-Puerto Rican heritage. del Villard was hailed as a champion of Afro-Puerto Rican arts and culture.  Del Villard completed her elementary, junior high and high school education in Santurce, PR. Her mother Marcolina Guilbert, was Puerto Rican and her father, Agustin Villard was African. After completing high school, she received a scholarship from the Puerto Rican government to attend Fisk University in Tennessee, where she studied social work and anthropology.  After being subjected to racism and discrimination in the Southern U.S., she returned home and enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico and completed her studies there. Continue reading “Honoring “La Majestad Negra”:  Sylvia del Villard, Afro-Puerto Rican Actress, Singer, Dancer,  Orator, And Activist”

Gladys West:  African American Mathematician Who Helped Develop GPS Technology 

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Gladys and Ira West
Gladys & Ira West

There is no doubt of the pivotal role GPS technology plays in so many facets of our lives. Gladys West, an African American mathematician, was part of the scientific and engineering team that developed Global Positioning System (GPS) technology during the 1950’s and 60’s. 87 year old Gladys West worked at the naval base in Dahlgren, Virginia for 42 years. West’s career started in 1956. She was the second African American woman hired at Dahlgren Naval Base. At the time, she was one of only four black employees; one of which, named Ira West, would become her husband. Gladys West’s work in the development of GPS technology, was discovered when she was preparing a bio for a sorority function. West is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

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Dr. Myra Adele Logan: First Woman To Perform Open Heart Surgery

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Dr. Myra A. Logan (1908-1977) made history in 1943 by becoming the first woman to operate on a human heart. Logan was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her father was the treasurer of Tuskegee Institute. Her mother was well known suffragist and health care advocate. Her mother also had a college degree, which would have been rare at that time. Logan earned an MS in psychology from Columbia University. She then was awarded a scholarship to attend New York Medical College. She graduated in 1933 and completed an internship at Harlem Hospital in the emergency room. Continue reading “Dr. Myra Adele Logan: First Woman To Perform Open Heart Surgery”

Thank Dr. Clarence Ellis When You Click An Icon On Your Computer!

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Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943 – 2014)

Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943-2014) earned a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Illinois. He was the first African American to gain a Ph.D in this area of study.  A dedicated educator, he loved to teach students who were new to the field of study and who lacked experience.  Ellis was born and raised on the south side of Chicago.  Ellis was also instrumental in the development of “groupware” technology. This technology makes it possible for several people to collaborate on a document at the same time.  His work made it possible for programs such as Google Docs and Sharepoint software to be developed.  He is also credited with inventing the technology we now use to click “icons” on a computer screen to execute computer commands.

Continue reading “Thank Dr. Clarence Ellis When You Click An Icon On Your Computer!”

Dr. Ayanna Howard: African American Roboticist & Artificial Intelligence Scientist

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Dr. Ayanna Howard (1972 – ) has some impressive credentials. She is a noted expert in the area of Artificial Intelligence. She is often referred to as an “old school Blerd” (Black Nerd). Her motivation to pursue a career in the sciences was fueled by watching TV shows such as, The Bionic Woman, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman” as a child. Since 2005, Dr. Howard has worked as a roboticist and Motorola Foundation Professor at Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines. She received a bachelors degree in Engineering from Brown University and a masters degree from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California. Her research has centered on artificial intelligence (also known as humanized intelligence).

In 2003, Howard was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators under age 35 in the world. In 2008, she garnered world wide press for her “SnoMote” robots which were designed to study the impact of global warming in the Antarctic. The robots were remote control snowmobiles that aided scientists in collecting climate data. These robots made data collection possible without forcing scientist out into the harsh elements. The robots were programmed to work together and to monitor targeted areas. They were mounted with sensors and cameras to collect data including temperature and barometric readings.
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Roy L. Clay: The Godfather of Silicon Valley

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Known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley”, Roy Clay, Sr. (1929 -) was born in Kinloch, Missouri. He graduated from St. Louis University, majoring in mathematics. One of the first jobs he sought after graduation was at McDonnell Aircraft. His resume did not reveal that he was black. He was called for an interview. When he arrived, he was told that there were no jobs for “professional negroes”.

He learned to do computer coding in 1956. Bill Gates was just a baby. There were no college level computer programming or computer science classes. At that time, computers were highly unstable and most could not even be counted on to function for a full day without failing. Clay joined Hewlett-Packard Computers (HP) in 1965 to help build its first computer by its co-founder David Packard. Clay’s professional profile had garnered his attention due to his work on the Manhattan Project.

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Janet Emerson Bashen: Software Pioneer

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Janet Emerson Bashen received a technology patent in 2006. She is President, Founder, and CEO of Bashen Technologies.  Bashen saw a need to help employers with EEO tracking and reporting to more effectively respond to discrimination complaints filed by employees.  She knew that when discrimination claims were filed against companies, paperwork was often lost and took a long time to process.  She created a web based software platform to help employers track this info and streamline their reporting processes.
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Marc Hannah: Engineering Innovator

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Marc Hannah
Marc Hannah

March R. Hannah was born on October 13, 1956 in Chicago, IL. Hannah is the co-founded of Silicon Graphics (SGI) along with Jim Clark and 5 others. The company has become well known for its innovation in the area of graphics technology. Hannah, served as principal scientist at SGI and was responsible for the creation of programs like Personal IRIS, Indigo, and Indy Graphics These programs were used to develop special effects for movie productions such as Jurassic Park, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunt for Red October, Field of Dreams and Terminator 2. SGI’s technology has also been used for military applications. SGI is an international market leader in 3-D computer graphics. SGI technology has also been used to design cars, airplanes, and military virtual simulation training. Hannah holds over 15 patents in the area of computer technology. Hannah currently serves as the chief technology officer for Songpro. Songpro is a technology company specializing in making multimedia plug ins that are used for listening to music on video game players and MP3 players.

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