Black scientists have made enormous contributions to humanity. With so much saddness and horror going on, we wanted to celebrate people who made the world a better place.
Here are images, quotes, and brief backgrounds on notable Black scientists.
You may use the images as you wish. Photos were all sourced from the creative commons. Links to the image sources are in the photo descriptions.
NOTE: There are many, many, many other Black STEM pioneers. We created this piece with the intention you would use and share these images. For that reason, this piece only features scientists whose images are in the public domain, so there are no copyright issues.
To read about more notable scientists, click here.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
(April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) – U.S. educator, presidential advisor, and founder of Tuskegee University.
Notable quote: “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
(August 13, 1933) – Pediatrician, health administrator, and the first Black person appointed as Surgeon General of the U.S.
Notable quote: “We’ve tried ignorance for a thousand years. It’s time we try education.”
SAINT ELMO BRADY
(December 22, 1884 – December 25, 1966) – In 1916, Dr. Brady became the first Black person to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the U.S., which he earned at the University of Illinois.During his career, he held leadership positions and helped establish strong graduate/undergraduate programs and fundraising initiatives for four historically black colleges (Howard, Tuskegee, Fisk, and Tougaloo).
(September 10, 1942) – Mathematician, data analyst, and aeronautical engineer who spent most of her 40-year career researching supersonic flight and sonic booms. She was the first Black woman to be promoted to the top rank at NASA’s Langley Research Center.
GUION S. BLUFORD JR.
Dr. Guion S. Bluford Jr. (November 22, 1942) U.S. aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer/fighter pilot, former NASA astronaut, and the first Black person in space.
Notable quote: “I felt an awesome responsibility, and I took the responsibility very seriously, of being a role model and opening another door to black Americans, but the important thing is not that I am black, but that I did a good job as a scientist and an astronaut. There will be black astronauts flying in later missions … and they, too, will be people who excel, not simply who are Black . . . who can ably represent their people, their communities, their country.”
ANGIE TURNER KING
(December 9, 1905-February 28, 2004) – Dr. King was one of the first Black women to gain degrees in chemistry and mathematics as well as a Ph.D. in math education.
She mentored several young students including Katherine Johnson, one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures”.
(October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) – Dr. McNair was a physicist, astronaut, and the second Black American citizen to travel to space. Tragically, he died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 at age 35.
MARIE MAYNARD DALY
(April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003) – Dr. Daly was an American biochemist and the first Black American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry, which was awarded by Columbia University in 1947.