I want to keep my introductory note short today. It’s a simple call to continue teaching and celebrating Black History with your students year round.
Katherine Johnson passed away yesterday at the prime age of 101. She was a mathematician and a NASA employee that became a household name after the movie Hidden Figures was released in 2016. I had not personally learned about Katherine Johnson and her story before the movie.
In all my school days and all my Black History months no one had told me the story of this incredible Black woman, her colleagues, and their contribution to science. I know it would have meant a lot to me, a child who wrote in my 5th grade year book that I wanted to be a mathematician when I grew up and then by high school inexplicably was convinced I was no good at math or science and had to just survive those courses. It would have meant a lot to know Katherine’s story.
In fairness to my teachers, you can’t tell stories you don’t know- but that is why we must all continue to learn and research together. Know your students interests and then find leaders and role models for them in those fields. Integrate them into the lesson. Use the community resources around you to have others share the load. I’m including a video from an interview with Katherine Johnson; I hope her words can inspire both you and your students and challenge us to be imaginative about the work we do each day.
All the best,