Mark Dean: Computer Engineering’s “Hidden Figure”

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Chances are, if you’ve ever stuck a disk drive into a computer or printed from a computer or even used a computer with a color screen, you have computer scientist and engineer, Mark Dean, to thank for all of that.

While he may not be as known as computer gurus like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, Mark Dean’s contributions to the personal computer aren’t any less notable.

He holds some of the largest, most groundbreaking personal computer patents including the first color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He also co-invented the Industry Standard Architecture system bus, which allows for computer plug-ins such as disk drives and printers.

Born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, in 1957, Dean helped launch the personal computer age with work that made the machines more accessible and powerful.

From an early age, Dean showed a love for building things; as a young boy, Dean constructed a tractor from scratch with the help of his father, a supervisor at the Tennessee Valley Authority. While still in high school, he also built his own computer, radio and amplifier.

Dean also excelled in many different areas, standing out as a gifted athlete and an extremely smart student who graduated with straight A’s from Jefferson City High School. In 1979, he graduated at the top of his class at the University of Tennessee, where he studied engineering.

As an engineer, Dean proved to be a rising star at the company. Working closely with a colleague, Dennis Moeller, Dean developed the new Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, a new system that allowed peripheral devices like disk drives, printers and monitors to be plugged directly into computers. The end result was more efficiency and better integration.

But his groundbreaking work didn’t stop there. Dean’s research at IBM helped change the accessibility and power of the personal computer. His work led to the development of the color PC monitor and, in 1999, Dean led a team of engineers at IBM’s Austin, Texas, lab to create the first gigahertz processing chip chip—a revolutionary piece of technology that is able to do a billion calculations a second.

For the complete article, continue on to Black Doctor.

11-Year Old Prodigy Receives Full-Ride Scholarship

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This Black child prodigy is wasting no time making his mark on the world. At just 11-years old, Elijah Precciely is a full-time student at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is also the youngest full-ride scholarship recipient the university has ever signed.

While he just began his career as a full-time student in the 2019 spring semester, he has been taking classes at the university since he was 8 years old.

The opportunity to start his college career early began when his mother reached out to a member of Southern University’s Physics department, Dr. Diola Bagayoko. While initially looking for lab space for his inventions, the professor invited Elijah to sit in on his classes.

While being homeschooled, he went on to take classes in biology, physics, and business. Now enrolled at the university as a full-time student, he will be studying physics and mechanical engineering through the honors college. Due to his previously earned credits, he already has a Sophomore class ranking.

“When I reflect on this Joseph S. Clark Presidential Scholars Award it means absolute legacy, nothing but legacy to me,” Elijah said while signing his letter of acceptance. “Those that have paved the way, I want to thank you for paving the way in my education, and I will absolutely pave the way for others to do the impossible. I am elated.”

For the complete article, continue on to Black News.

Black Migration Was Hot Topic at 93rd ASALH Black History Month Luncheon

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By Roy Betts

More than 1,000 educators, historians, students and community and government leaders convened for the 93rd annual Black History Month luncheon hosted by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Washington, D.C.

The nation’s premier Black History Month event focused on ASALH’s 2019 theme Black Migrations, which emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities.

Black migrations are stories of “pain and unbridled hope” that “ultimately are about our striving, about our endurance, and about our perseverance in America,” said Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, ASALH national president and history department chair and Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

The luncheon featured a panel discussion on Black Migrations led by Dr. Jelani Cobb, the Ira R. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. Other panelists were Dr. Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor constitutional law at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Kojo Nnamdi, host of radio shows “The Politics Hour” and “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU 88.5 at American University; and Dr. G. Derek Musgrove, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

As reported in an article written by LaMont Jones for Diverseeducation.com, speakers on the panel noted that Black Americans continually forged new identities with each major transfer of population, from the Great Migration from the agricultural south to the industrial north to a current reverse migration of sorts back to the south.

“Folks are constantly negotiating what it means to be African American on the back end of these migrations,” said Musgrove.

Events that have triggered forced or voluntary Black migration punctuate “400 years of perseverance” seeking economic progress, safety, and respect, yet “when we reinvent ourselves, laws change to undermine our progress,” said Browne-Marshall.

Immigration from the Caribbean, Africa, and across the African diaspora can affect and be affected by Black migration events in the United States, and racism and oppression of Blacks everywhere has created a common bond, said Nnamdi.

Current implications of Black migration are informed by various demographic shifts, particularly ones that have seen African Americans move outward from major cities such as the District of Columbia and New York — where they had been a large part or the majority of the population — because of economic factors.

The large Black population of Prince George’s County in Maryland was partly a response to cost and quality of living issues in D.C., and it’s important to understand such phenomena when considering how Black Americans are “on the move” today, said Musgrove.

Black people tend to migrate where they perceive opportunities to be, which may be behind the decision of large numbers to return to southern roots from the North and Midwest in recent years, observed Browne-Marshall.

She questioned where the next Black migration should be.

“Out of this country?” she asked. “Back down South? Are we going from the frying pan to the fire? Or do we want another frying pan?”

Roy Betts is a member of ASALH’s Marketing and Public Relations Committee.

IBM just appointed the first African-American woman to command a US Navy ship to its board

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IBM appointed Admiral Michelle J. Howard, the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, to its board, the company announced Tuesday.

A former U.S. Navy officer, Howard was the first woman to become a 4-star admiral in addition to becoming the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, according to IBM’s announcement. In July 2014, she became the first woman and African-American to be named Vice Chief of Naval Operations, IBM said, and she retired from her 35-year career in December 2017.

Howard now teaches cybersecurity and international policy at George Washington University, according to the release.

Howard’s board appointment will be effective March 1.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in a statement in the release, “Admiral Howard is a groundbreaking leader with a distinguished career in military service. Her leadership skills, international perspective and extensive experience with cybersecurity and information technology will make her a great addition to the IBM Board.”

For the complete article, continue on to CNBC.

The 2019 Oscars broke boundaries, especially for women of color

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Over the past few years, the #OscarsSoWhite and Time’s Up movements have been pushing unceasingly for more diversity in Hollywood, both in front of the screen and behind the scenes. And while the Oscars are still overwhelmingly white and male, that work has started to pay off, with the Academy adding multiple women and people of color to its voting body in 2017.

That was evident at the 2019 Oscars: Multiple Oscars milestones were reached, with people of color and women taking home awards that have never been claimed by anyone from their identity group before.

They’re milestones worth celebrating — but it’s also worth noting how absurdly long it’s taken to get even this far.

Black Panther led the charge in multiple categories

Black Panther’s black-focused, women-led production team set multiple milestones. As Alyssa Klein noted on TwitterRuth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler — winners for best costume and best production design, respectively — became the second and third black women ever to win a non-acting Oscar, and the first to win in more than 30 years. (Their predecessor, Irene Cara, won in 1984 for writing the “Flashdance” song.)

And together with Regina King, who won Best Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk, the three wins represented the first time that more than one black woman has won an Oscar in the same year. Beachler was also the first black woman to even be nominated for production design, so her win was a triple milestone.

(Via Washington Post)

For the complete article, continue on to Vox.

Celebrating Black History Month: Ken Chenault Talks Diversity in the Workforce, TIAA Takes Students on an Educational Journey

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TIAA_Chenault Group

“Be intellectually curious, push the envelope, and be caring and decisive.”

These are wise words from Ken Chenault, Chairman and Managing Director of General Catalyst and former American Express Chairman and CEO, who spoke to TIAA employees on February 6 in TIAA’s New York City office and broadcasted nationally to TIAA employees via phone and video conference.

In honor of Black History Month, and in support of TIAA’s Empowered Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black professionals, Mr. Chenault spoke about the importance of diversity in the workplace and actions we can all take every day to embody true leadership.

Mr. Chenault shared his experiences with becoming an effective and decisive leader. He also shared advice and actions everyone can take to push for diversity and change in the workforce nationwide:

  • Rely on your values in times of crisis, being decisive and compassionate
  • Bring your whole self to work
  • Express yourself fully
  • Create a welcoming environment
  • Take personal responsibility to drive innovation

Mr. Chenault also shared best practices on how companies can be innovative in their approach to increasing diversity. He explained that diversity and inclusion needs to be handled like a core business initiative.  He reiterated the obvious need for more diverse leadership in America – more CEOs of color and women are needed.

Mr. Chenault encouraged companies to increase hiring of diverse talent to build a diverse pipeline as a way of increasing diversity in leadership as well.  “We have a long way to go, to improve diversity,” he said. He emphasized that the company culture has to be evident that people are truly included and engaged with each other. “Fundamentally, if you’re talking about culture – if people are proud and engaged – that’s what you want,” he said.

Other best practices he shared:

  • Define objectives and execute to create outcomes
  • Have great invention and transformation. Become the company that could put you out of business one day
  • Innovate or die. Don’t stand still
  • Build a diverse pipeline of talent
  • Have survey and metrics on diversity – it creates accountability
TIAA_Chenault and Zarifa
Ken Chenault with Zarifa Reynolds, Head of Corporate Development at TIAA

After the discussion, TIAA recognized Mr. Chenault with the inaugural TIAA Leadership in Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Award for demonstrating commitment to I&D, challenging the status quo, and raising the bar in the workplace for fair and equitable treatment.

“Ken Chenault’s fireside chat energized and inspired those who attended the event.  TIAA employees commented that they were most struck by Ken’s definition of his leadership style as one that was caring and decisive, where he defined reality and gave hope and one where he integrated diversity and inclusion into every aspect of business outcomes,” said Zarifa Reynolds, Head of Corporate Development at TIAA and New York Chapter Co-Lead of the Empowered Employee Resource Group (ERG).

“Mr. Chenault’s perspective resonated with our employees by demonstrating the efficacy of inclusion as a business imperative. Inclusion is not simply morally right – it’s a key source of customer centricity, innovation, and business results,” said Jourdan Jones, Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy at TIAA and New York Chapter Co-Lead of the Empowered Employee Resource Group (ERG).

TIAA advocates for diversity and inclusion – in and outside the office.  In addition to inviting Ken to speak to employees for Black History Month, TIAA is also celebrating by giving back to the community and pushing the envelope for diversity in education and opportunities for students.

“Innovation – we have to own it every day,” said Corie Pauling, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at TIAA. “Getting everyone involved in the I&D work is an important strategy and goal for TIAA, which will help position the company for the next 100 years.”

TIAA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team is providing an opportunity for local students in Charlotte at Vance High School, an adopt-a-school relationship TIAA has established, to participate in an educational Washington D.C. field trip. Fifty students (10th-12th grades) will partake in a unique tour experience within the National Museum of African American History and Culture on February 23.  Students and chaperones will also tour Howard University, a HBCU in D.C., to learn about the college and its programs. TIAA is also providing EverFi’s digital 306 African American Curriculum to an entire school district in Charlotte at no-cost.

Chosen for their exemplary African American Studies essays, these students will also have exposure to a digital, online education & training company that will further their career connections via a speed networking event at EVERFI’s headquarters in the D.C. area.

The CSR team arranged a volunteer event with the Empowered Employee Resource Group members to host a discussion at Vance H.S. around the 306 curriculum, specifically on the lessons / modules of the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” “The Tuskegee Institute,” and “W.E.B. Du Bois.”

TIAA CSR Black History Program CLT

Langston Hughes’ Impact on the Harlem Renaissance

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During the Harlem Renaissance, which took place roughly from the 1920s to the mid-’30s, many black artists flourished as public interest in their work took off. One of the Renaissance’s leading lights was poet and author Langston Hughes.

Hughes not only made his mark in this artistic movement by breaking boundaries with his poetry, he drew on international experiences, found kindred spirits amongst his fellow artists, took a stand for the possibilities of black art, and influenced how the Harlem Renaissance would be remembered.

Hughes stood up for black artists George Schuyler, editor of a black paper in Pittsburgh, wrote the article “The Negro-Art Hokum” for an edition of The Nation in June 1926.

The article discounted the existence of “Negro art,” arguing that African-American artists shared European influences with their white counterparts, and were therefore producing the same kind of work. Spirituals and jazz, with their clear links to black performers, were dismissed as folk art.

Invited to make a response, Hughes penned “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” In it, he described black artists rejecting their racial identity as “the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America.” But he declared that instead of ignoring their identity, “We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual, dark-skinned selves without fear or shame.”

This clarion call for the importance of pursuing art from a black perspective was not only the philosophy behind much of Hughes’ work, but it was also reflected throughout the Harlem Renaissance.

To read the complete article, continue on to Biography.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education campaign for African-Americans

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced  the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign  to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the  National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

Black PR Wire Power Profiler on Dr. Maulana Karenga

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maulena-karenga

Dr. Maulana Karenga is professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He is also chair of the President’s Task Force on Multicultural Education and Campus Diversity at California State University, Long Beach.

Dr. Karenga holds two Ph.D.’s; his first in political science with focus on the theory and practice of nationalism (United States International University) and his second in social ethics with a focus on the classical African ethics of ancient Egypt (University of Southern California). He also holds an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa.

Moreover, Dr. Karenga is the director of the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies, Los Angeles, and national chairman of The Organization Us, a cultural and social change organization, so named to stress the communitarian focus of the organization. Dr. Karenga has had a profound and far-reaching effect on Black intellectual and political culture. Through his organization Us and his philosophy, Kawaida, he has played a vanguard role in shaping the Black Arts Movement, Black Studies, the Black Power Movement, Black Student Union Movement, Afrocentri¬city, rites of passage programs, the study of ancient Egyptian culture as an essential part of Black Studies, the independent Black school movement, African life-cycle ceremonies, the Simba Wachanga youth movement, and Black theological and ethical discourse.

Dr. Karenga is also widely known as the creator of Kwanzaa, an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated throughout the world African community on every continent in the world. He is the author of the authoritative book on the subject: Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture and lectures regularly and extensively on the vision and values of Kwanzaa, especially the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles), in various national and international venues.

Continue on to BlackPrWire to read the complete article.

The Howard University Ooh La La! Dance Line Wins the #RadiantDanceOff Contest

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Howard University Dancers

It’s official, the Howard University Ooh La La! dance line reigns supreme, winning the second annual HBCU Dance #RadiantDanceOff Contest presented by The Radiant Collection from Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) leading feminine protection brands Tampax® and Always®, in partnership with HBCU Dance Corporation, Inc.

This year, the Ooh La La! dance line competed against 19 HBCU schools nationwide in the #RadiantDanceOff to win $20,000 and custom uniforms created by Briana Bigham, a seasoned designer who has worked with some of the most popular labels in fashion.

“HBCU dancers are some of the hardest working women on the yard, and they give their all in every performance. Their skill and on-the-field radiance shined in every #RadiantDanceOff submission we received so choosing just one winning team was a huge challenge,” says Keelia Brown, founder of HBCU Dance Corporation, Inc. “The #RadiantDanceOff competition shines a light on the confidence and talent of the amazing women on the teams, and the prize from The Tampax and Always Radiant Collection will help them keep dancing.”

This was the second annual #RadiantDanceOff contest, a national online dance competition designed exclusively for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Created in 2017, the contest was designed to change the fact that African-American women avoid activities like dancing, and even compromise their style during their periods1. The contest highlights the bold moves and fierce styles worn by HBCU dance lines to show women everywhere that they can wear and do whatever they want with confidence, any day of the month, and showcases the incredible skill of majorettes across the country.

This homecoming season, eligible HBCU dance teams competed to earn one of the top five spots in the #RadiantDanceOff competition. As per last year’s program, eligible teams entered by submitting a two-minute video that was voted on by fans, alumni and students, along with a short essay highlighting why their team runs the yard. A panel then judged the five dance teams with the highest number of votes on:

  • Difficulty of dance steps, cohesiveness and technical proficiency
  • Originality of dance performance
  • Creative execution of wardrobe selection
  • Ability to convey character and expression in the dance
  • Essay submission

“The Tampax and Always Radiant Collection is all about giving women the freedom to be the fiercest version of themselves any day of the month,” says Melissa Suk, Brand Director, North America Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble. “The women of Howard University radiate confidence every day, and we’re happy we can help them shine even brighter on the field.”

Continue on to Business Wire to read the complete article.

Dr. Mae Jemison: On a ‘Starship’ Enterprise

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Dr Mae Jemison in space

By Brady Rhoades

The first female African-American astronaut in space was not cured of curiosity when she whirled about the cosmos as part of NASA’s STS-47 in 1992. Her vision sharpened, like a kid who takes her first plane flight. Wondrous, yes, but still a hint.

Space, for Dr. Mae Jemison, is a wild trip in your bones and a homecoming in your soul. “It’s the one thing that connects us all around the world,” she said, in an interview with Diversity in STEAM Magazine. “And it also connects us to the planet and to the greater universe.”

Jemison is in demand, but she manages telescopic vision when it comes to her current project: 100 Year Starship.

The goal? Human travel to another solar system in the next 100 years. “Creating an extraordinary tomorrow actually creates a better world today,” Jemison said.

Jemison, the principal and leader of the 100 Year Starship program, stated on the organization’s website (100yearss.org): “When we explore space, we garner the greatest benefits here at home. The challenge of traveling to another star system could generate transformative activities, knowledge, and technologies that would dramatically benefit every nation on Earth in the near term and years to come.

“The concept of humans traveling to other star systems may appear fantastical, but no more so than the fantasy of reaching the moon was in the days of H. G. Wells. The First Men in the Moon was published considerably less than 100 years before humans landed on the Moon (1901 vs. 1969), and the rapidity of scientific and technological advances was not nearly as great as it is today. The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can’t imagine a world without them.”

Jemison was the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab. STS-47 was a cooperative mission between the United States and Japan. The eight-day mission was accomplished in 127 orbits of the Earth, and included 44 Japanese and U.S. life science and materials processing experiments.

Dr Mae Jemison seated resting hand on chin
Dr. Mae Jemison

She was a co-investigator on the bone cell research experiment that traveled with the mission. In completing her first space flight, Jemison logged more than 190 hours in space. She’d been starstruck all her life; that didn’t change. “I imagined myself on another star, and I was connected to that star because I’m part of the universe,” she said.

Dr. Jemison, the author of Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life and other books, overcame all the obstacles placed on the career course, and life course, of an African-American woman. She negotiated each pothole, each roadblock, moved on, didn’t look back. “You make sure you’re doing the best you can do, but you don’t hang out at stumbling blocks that other people want you to hang around.”

Her advice for those facing similar challenges? “You have to be comfortable with yourself,” she said. “The key issue is to understand criticism. Is it coming because you aren’t doing something right or because someone has a different expectation of you?”

Jemison, who earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 and a doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University in 1981, urges others to focus on education. “There is nothing we can do that is more important in this world than education,” she said. “Here’s the thing: Children don’t get to do 8 years old over again… if we fail to take advantage, then we have lost.”

The astronaut who went on to be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and the Texas Science Hall of Fame, started off gazing at the night sky as a girl in Chicago and watching the Gemini and Apollo flights on TV.

“I used to be really irritated when I was a little girl that there were no women astronauts,” she said. “And no people of color in the astronaut program. Really irritated.”

She said there’s a difference between role models and inspiration. She’s had many role models, including cats (“They’re so confident; they don’t take nonsense”), but inspiration is another matter. “Life inspired me,” she said.

Dr Jemison onstage with Stephen Hawkings
(L-R) Ann Druyan, producer, co-founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios; Zac Manchester, post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University; Yuri Milner, Breakthrough Prize and DST Global founder; Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, University of Cambridge; Freeman Dyson, Emeritus Professor, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study; Mae Jamison, NASA Astronaut, Principal 100 Year Starship Foundation; Peter Worden, Chairman, Breaktrough Prize Foundation and former NASA Director; Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University; and Philip Lubin, UC Santa Barbara Physics Professor, pose for a photo together. BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES FOR BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE FOUNDATION

Jemison, a lover of the arts who dove deeply into dancing, has a background in engineering and medical research. She has worked in the areas of computer programming, printed wiring board materials, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, computer magnetic disc production, and reproductive biology. She completed her internship at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center in June 1982 and worked as a general practitioner with INA/Ross Loos Medical Group in Los Angeles until December of that year.

From January 1983 through June 1985, Jemison was the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. On return to the United States, Jemison joined CIGNA Health Plans of California in 1985 and was working as a general practitioner and taking graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when she was chosen for the astronaut program in 1987.

She worked on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and the Science Support Group activities.

Then she was chosen to go to space, and she made history. “We have been in science all along,” she said about women of color. “Even when people didn’t want us involved. I want folks to understand they have the right to be involved. They don’t have to ask.”

Jemison left NASA in 1993—with a new mission. “My path was to include other people,” she said. She formed the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which fosters science literacy. The non-profit, founded in honor of Jemison’s late mother, who was a school teacher, is all about “personal excellence.” The foundation’s main program, developed in 1994, is The Earth We Share international science camp. Students from the United States and around the world work together to solve such global issues as, “How Many People Can the Earth Hold?” and “Predict the Hot Public Stocks for the Year 2030.”

Dr. Mae Jemison in Star Trek episode picture Lt. Ohura
Jemison appeared in a speaking role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Lieutenant Palmer, an officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D in 2369. Seen here speaking to Nichelle Nichols, who played communications officer Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series and movies.

Today, if you visit the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, Jemison will speak directly to you about the contributions women have made to the space program, via a life-size hologram in the exhibit Defying Gravity: Women in Space. She narrates, discussing her career and those of other women involved in the space program while visitors wear Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headsets and walk around the exhibit. Holograms appear, helping to illustrate her points, including a life-size rendering of an spacewalking astronaut that appears to be tethered to the real-life Enterprise that hangs above the installation.

Jemison’s story jumpstarted when, as a girl, she did a simple thing: she looked up.

The story never really ends; the cosmos are infinite; you can never look too closely or far enough. All this is to say Jemison is still looking up, and she wants others—especially generations to come—to do the same.

That’s why she coaxed a sea of people to do just that on September 28, 2018, as part of her Look Up project. “We want to chronicle what happens when you look up at the sky,” she said. “What do you hope, dream, think, fear, wish, plan, love?” Stories of those voyages were posted to the digital world as poems, songs, photos and art. That day and in the days after, Americans, Africans, French, Japanese, girls, boys, old, young and you-name-them connected in strange and soothing ways.

“What’s above us, unites us,” Jemison said.

83-Year-Old Veteran to Receive Ph.D. from LSU

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Johnnie Jones’ age isn’t stopping him from learning. In fact, the 83-year-old veteran will receive his Ph.D. from LSU on Friday, Dec. 14.

“Every person regardless of his station in life, or his or her limitations, should seek to be the best he or she can really be. And you spend your time living not thinking about dying. Death will take care of itself,” Jones said.

Jones used that focus to pursue a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a Ph.D., and he has hopes of going to law school next.

“I want to study law. I have no intention of being an attorney; I simply want to go to law school for the knowledge, and I’m sure there will be students in the class who think I’m nuts, but so what?”

Jones was born in Mississippi and at the age of 18, joined the Marine Corps. His LSU education started while he was deployed to Vietnam as a squad leader.

“I wanted to stay connected, so to speak. I didn’t want to run the risk of losing interest because I had begun studies at San Diego Community College when I went to Vietnam,” Jones said. “LSU’s correspondence course was offered to any student, regardless where they were or what their status was, so I just happened to take advantage of the program.”

After he left Vietnam, Jones received a degree in sociology from the University of Hawaii.

“From Hawaii I moved back to California, where I submitted a number of applications for graduate school, and LSU came through first, plus I had already been taking a course from LSU, so I settled on LSU.”

Jones received a Master’s of Social Work from LSU in 1975 and was about nine hours short of his Ph.D. when he received a job offer from the Department of Corrections. He would retire 25 years later as the warden for the women’s prison.

“Of course, having a family and young children, I took the job and that’s how that turned out,” Jones said. “And as a consequence, I ran out the required seven year time period that they give you to complete the Ph.D. So I had to start all over again from scratch.”

Jones started over, but another set-back prevented him from receiving a Ph.D.

“I had a serious health problem and again, I had completed all of the requirements for the Ph.D. in human ecology, but I had to drop out because of health reasons.”

Just when he was ready to start working toward the degree for the third time, Jones said a professor helped him get an extension, allowing him to complete his dissertation and not have to start over again.

“My dissertation was about racism and religion and specifically the perceptions of racism and the stress that black families experience as a result, and how religion serves as a coping strategy.”

Jones said the state provides free tuition for students over 65 years old and said LSU’s faculty have both supported and challenged him. He added, the other students have enjoyed having him in class.

“It was really comical, most of my classmates are young enough to be my grandchildren and they found it amazing at my age that I would be sitting in a classroom. They thought I was nuts. They didn’t quite understand what motivated me. They’re all preparing for occupations, but my occupation was over. I had retired. I was just there for self-edification,” said Jones. “I told them the reason why I was doing that, is because to me age is something that we have been socialized to believe that it is one of the most important things in our life. At 15, you’re supposed to be doing this, at 25 you’re supposed to be doing this, at 65…that’s arbitrary. I think you should not cease pursuing whatever it is you’re interested in because of age. Your only limitation that you should have is mental or physical, other than that you should keep on pushing.”

Continue onto Louisiana State University Newsroom to read the complete article.

Meet the 26-year-old entrepreneur turning high-school gamers into varsity athletes

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With his PlayVS e-sports platform, Delane Parnell is creating a valuable scouting grounds for new tech talent.

Sporting a pair of black Jordan 11 Cap and Gowns that look like they were just unboxed and a dark baseball cap that casts a slight shadow over his baby-cheeked face, Delane Parnell fields questions from the audience at this September’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual San Francisco assembly that has become a startup kingmaker of sorts. He shares the stage with Jason Citron, founder and CEO of Discord, a messaging app for video gamers with more than 150 million users, and—after a $50 million fundraising round in April—a valuation of $1.65 billion. Parnell’s PlayVS (pronounced play versus), an e-sports platform for high schools, has yet to even launch. But the 26-year-old Detroit native exudes confidence. “Investors are starting to realize that gaming is the next social paradigm,” says Parnell, answering a question about e-sports’ mainstream popularity. “And they want a piece of it.”

You don’t have to look far for evidence of gaming’s influence. It’s all over YouTube and Twitch in how-to videos and live-streamed sessions of FIFA 19 and Assassin’s Creed. A robust ecosystem of e-sports competitions is rising as well, with game publishers, entertainment companies, and even colleges and universities creating leagues and events for pro gamers and amateurs alike. The largest tournaments, for titles such as Dota 2 and Call of Duty, can fill stadiums and dangle purses of millions of dollars. According to research firm NewZoo, revenue from e-sports-related media, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees is expected to nearly double from 2014 to reach $1 billion this year. Goldman Sachs projects e-sports viewership to reach 300 million by 2022, putting it on par with the NFL.

For all the organizations rushing into e-sports, a hole remains: high school competitions that engage the estimated 75% of American teens who already play video games. Parnell is filling that void with PlayVS, which lets schools create leagues and host virtual and live competitions. Though he’s diving into an industry full of well-funded sharks, including Amazon (Twitch’s parent company) and Discord, Parnell has an edge. In January, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year e-sports partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the organization that oversees varsity sports and activities at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools across the country. The first test season of a PlayVS-powered competition, for the popular multiplayer game League of Legends, commenced this October at high schools across five states, and the company is gearing up for its official inaugural season in February.

Parnell is now on a roll. Last week, just five months after PlayVS closed its $15.5 million Series A, the company announced a $30.5 million round from investors that include Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers“I don’t care if you’re gaming on your phone, on a console, or through a cloud service,” Parnell says. “Gaming in high school, even if it’s tic-tac-toe, will run through us.”

If he succeeds, he could effectively control a pipeline that would feed into the burgeoning pro leagues. It took the NBA two decades after its first draft to start recruiting players from high schools, but e-sports leagues are already tapping young talent. A 13-year-old recently signed with a European pro Fortnite team. Given the venture capital and startups flooding into e-sports today, Parnell could create another, equally valuable conduit: one that enables high schoolers—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to parlay their interest in gaming into lucrative tech jobs. All he has to do is convince schools that e-sports deserves to be taken as seriously as football and basketball.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

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