Modern Day Black History [Part 7/7] – Dr. Steve Perry

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Dr. Steve Perry

Occupation: Educator

Summary: Unfortunately, there is no Wiki summary for Dr. Perry, however his online bio says: Dr. Steve Perry’s heart pumps passion and produces positive change. Featured in CNN’s Black in America series, Dr. Perry is the most talked about innovative educator on the scene today. Perry is the founder and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of the top schools in the country, Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital Prep has sent 100% of its predominantly low-income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.

Learn More: http://www.drsteveperry.org

Personal Note: I remember first seeing Dr. Perry on CNN’s “Black in America” and the work that he is doing in education is simply exceptional and amazing. Definitely check out his website and learn more about this great educator who is a history maker in the here and now.

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Modern Day Black History [Part 6/7] – Stephanie Wilson

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Stephanie Wilson

Occupation: NASA Astronaut

The Wikipedia Summary: Stephanie Diana Wilson (born September 27, 1966) is an American engineer and a NASA astronaut. She flew on her first mission in space on board the Space Shuttle mission STS-121, and is the second African American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison.

Learn More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephanie_Wilson

Personal Note: As we all know, Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to travel in space. However, a lesser known fact is that of all the African Americans who have actually been in space in the NASA program (meaning that they have actually/literally/physically been in space), only 3 were women. Stephanie Wilson was the second and Joan Higginbotham was the third.

Modern Day Black History [Part 5/7] – Jerry Lawson

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Jerry Lawson

Occupation: Engineer

The Wikipedia Summary: Gerald Anderson “Jerry” Lawson (December 1, 1940 – April 9, 2011) was an American electronic engineer known for his work in designing the Fairchild Channel F video game console.

Personal Note: Had to skip to the “personal note” part on this first. The Wikipedia summary above (and the subsequent article) is very brief and does not do this pioneer justice. For example, “known for his work in designing the Fairchild Channel F video game console” is hardly an appropriate homage to HOW this changed the face of video games played at home. Lawson’s “Fairchild Channel F video game console” was the first “console developed around its own microprocessor”.

What does THAT mean? Simple. Lawson developed the first “self contained game”–or as it is better known–a game cartridge.

NOW think about all the gaming systems that used to used game cartridges (like Atari, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Neo Geo, Sega Genesis, etc).

Bottom line… if it wasn’t for Lawson creating the first cartridge-based video gaming system (whether you’ve heard of a “Channel F” or not), we’d still have to go to arcades to play video games and nobody would know about code 007 373 5963 to go directly to Mike Tyson on “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out” for NES. Could you imagine???

And now to a more appropo article on this great engineer:

Learn More: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_17531389

Modern Day Black History [Part 4/7] – Patrice Rushen

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Patrice Rushen

Occupation: Singer, Musician, Songwriter (among other things)

The Wikipedia Summary: Patrice Louise Rushen (born September 30, 1954) is an American composer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, music director and vocalist. Her 1982 single, “Forget Me Nots”, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Rushen had great success on the R&B and dance charts, but “Forget Me Nots” was the only one to crack the Top 40 pop chart.

Learn More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrice_Rushen

Personal Note: The old school remembers “Forget Me Nots” from the 80’s. The new school remembers the MIB movie remix by Will Smith of the same name (1997). The blessing and the curse is when a musical artist ends up being typecasted for one or two songs. Patrice Rushen is an amazing pianist/musician and if you don’t believe me, then check this out for yourself…

Patrice Rushen solo live at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival

Modern Day Black History [Part 3/7] – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Occupation: Astrophysicist (among other things)

The Wikipedia Summary: Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

Learn More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

Personal Note: I first saw Dr. Tyson on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central and the thing that struck me the most is that he was the right combination of smart AND funny that really spoke to my spirit. So, I looked him up on YouTube and heard a good number of his lectures at various universities. This guy is amazing and you owe it to yourself to check him out (especially if you like astrophysics).

Modern Day Black History [Part 2/7] – Rachelle Ferrell

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Rachelle Ferrell

Occupation: Singer, Musician, Songwriter

The Wikipedia Summary: Rachelle Ferrell (born May 21, 1964, Berwyn, Pennsylvania) is an American vocalist and musician.[1] Although she has had some success in the mainstream R&B, pop, gospel, and classical music scene, she is noted for her talents as a contemporary jazz singer.

Learn More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachelle_Ferrell

Personal Note: I have seen/heard her in concert and to hear a CD recording of her (though amazing as it is) does not do justice to her live performances. In short, she is one of a handful of singers that can sing the phone book to me. Therefore, I encourage you to check this clip out as a little BHM bonus. Enjoy!

Rachelle Ferrell performing “I Can Explain”

Modern Day Black History [Part 1/7] – Lonnie Johnson

Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Malcolm X. Shirley Chisholm. When it comes to Black History Month, we all know the lineup of notable contributors to Black history, however history–specifically black history for the purpose of this blog series–is made everyday. Check out today’s spotlight.

Name: Lonnie Johnson

Occupation: Inventor

The Wikipedia Summary: Lonnie George Johnson (born October 6, 1949 in Mobile, Alabama) is an American engineer. Johnson invented the Super Soaker water gun, which was the top selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992. Johnson holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Tuskegee University.

Learn More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonnie_Johnson_(inventor)

Personal Note: Yes. The one and only Super Soaker. I never owned one personally, but I’ve handled one before when I was younger and thought that was the coolest thing ever. Who knew that the right combination of water, air, and pressure could turn into a household phenomenon.