The First African-American Woman to Travel Into Space Re-Emerges In the Spotlight

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Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel into space.

Dr. Mae Jemison

The first African-American woman to travel into space re-emerged in the spotlight on Thursday night in Chattanooga, TN, delivering a message of inspiration and encouragement to the audience. The core of her message was: Never lose confidence. Those words are powerful coming from a woman who boarded the space shuttle Endeavour and traveled into space in 1992.

Incase you’re wondering what Dr. Jemison does today, she is a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College. She is also the founder of two medical technology companies.  And when she’s not busy teaching and/or running her businesses, she travels around the world for speaking engagements.

Dr. Jemison reveres Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as her inspiration and believes his powerful “I Have a Dream Speech” was not about fantasy, but a call to action. “Too often people paint him like Santa — smiley and inoffensive,” Dr. Jemison said of Dr. King. “But when I think of Martin Luther King, I think of attitude, audacity, and bravery.” Dr. Jemison thinks the civil rights movement was all about breaking down the barriers to human potential. “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.” Dr. Jemison, a Chicago Native, graduated high school at the age of 16 and attended Stanford University. She graduated from Stanford University in 1977, with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies. Dr. Jemison cited that her race was an issue as a chemical engineer major, and professors would often ignore her when she asked a question in class. “Some professors would just pretend I wasn’t there. I would ask a question and a professor would act as if it was just so dumb, the dumbest question he had ever heard. Then, when a white guy would ask the same question, the professor would say, ‘That’s a very astute observation,‘” Dr. Jemison said. 


Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.