The Power of Black Excellence: Highlighting African and African American Achievements in Various Fields - Part 1Mar 12, 2023 10:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian
The narrative of African Americans is one of tenacity and perseverance in the face of hardship. Notwithstanding the obstacles they have encountered throughout history, African Americans have significantly contributed to various professions and achieved remarkable success. Black Americans have imprinted on the globe in multiple fields, including politics, entertainment, athletics, and science.
Contribution to Science
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson receiving the National Medal of Science from President Obama in 2016, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dr Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African American woman to get a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Jackson went on to research particle physics and condensed matter physics before being elected to the National Academy of Sciences as the first African American woman.
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Wikimedia Commons
Astrophysicist and scientific communicator Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson has become notable in popularizing science through his television shows and books. Dr Tyson has also investigated star formation and the structure of our Milky Way galaxy.
Dr Mae Jemison, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dr Mae Jemison was the first African American woman in space. In 1992, Jemison worked as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, researching biological sciences, materials processing, and other subjects. After leaving NASA, Jemison formed the Jemison Group, a corporation that creates technologies and supports science education.
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Dr Patricia Era Bath, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Patricia Era Bath was an American ophthalmologist and humanitarian. She was the first woman member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, the first woman to oversee a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology, and the first woman chosen to the UCLA Medical Center's honorary staff.
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Contribution to Athletics
Jesse Owens in Berlin 1936, Source: Wikimedia Commons
James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens was a track and field athlete from the United States who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens specialized in sprints and long jumps and was dubbed "probably the best and most famous athlete in track and field history" during his career.
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Muhammad Ali being interviewed by Curt Anderson Source: Wikimedia Commons
Muhammad Ali pioneered in and out of the boxing ring, speaking out against racism, injustice, and war. Throughout his career, Ali won multiple championships, including the Olympic gold medal and the world heavyweight championship. His influence on sports and society in general cannot be overestimated.
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Florence Griffith Joyner, 1988 Source: Wikimedia Commons
Florence Griffith-Joyner, nicknamed "Flo Jo," established world records in the 100m and 200m sprints still in use today. She rose to prominence in the late 1980s due to her record-breaking athleticism and diverse personal style. She maintained her celebrity status through sponsorship deals, acting, and design.
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Usain Bolt, a Jamaican, is considered one of the best sprinters ever. He has world records for the 100 m, 200 m, and 4 x 100 m relay. His accomplishments as a sprinter gave him the media moniker "Lightning Bolt," and he has received several honors, including IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year (three times), and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year (four times).
Contribution to Entertainment
Jordan Peele is most recognized for his work in the comedic and horror genres on film and television. Peele began his career in sketch comedy before transitioning to writing and directing psychological horror and satire films. He is a pioneering director known for his thought-provoking horror films and dedication to conveying tales about Black American realities.
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Aretha Franklin, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin Recognized as the "Queen of Soul," Franklin's potent voice and timeless singles like "Respect" and "Natural Woman" established her as a music industry superstar. Her accomplishments, which include 18 Grammy Awards and membership into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, have helped to pave the way for subsequent generations of African American performers.
Sidney Poitier became the first Black American to receive an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in "Lilies of the Field" in 1963. He went on to star in several critically praised films, including "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "In the Hot of the Night," breaking down preconceptions and barriers.
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Michael Jackson was a singer, songwriter, dancer, and philanthropist from the United States. He is known as the "King of Pop" and is considered one of the most influential cultural personalities of the twentieth century. His contributions to music, dance, and fashion and his publicized personal life established him as a global icon in popular culture across a four-decade career. Jackson impacted musicians of all genres; through stage and film performances, he popularized sophisticated dance techniques such as the moonwalk, which he named, and the robot.
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Denzel Washington, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Denzel Washington, one of his generation's most acclaimed performers, has two Academy Awards and is noted for his strong performances in films such as "Malcolm X" and "Training Day." He has been regarded as redefining "the notion of classic cinema stardom." President Joe Biden awarded Washington the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022.
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Acknowledging and encouraging future generations by highlighting African American achievements in diverse sectors is critical. We can move toward a more just and equitable society where everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve by recognizing and honoring the power of black greatness. Keep tuned for part 2; there will be more.
Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.
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