The world is mourning the passing of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Forerunner & Rocket Scientist Katherine Johnson (1918 – 2020).
She died today at the ripe old age of 101. See this news headlines and excerpt here:
Title: Katherine Johnson, groundbreaking NASA mathematician depicted in ‘Hidden Figures,’ dies at 101
Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician and trailblazer for racial justice who is one of the space agency’s most inspirational leaders, has died. She was 101.
Johnson died Monday of natural causes at a retirement community in Newport News, Va., family attorney Donyale Y. H. Reavis told The Associated Press.
See the full article here: https://www.foxnews.com/science/katherine-johnson-nasa-mathematician-hidden-figures-dies
We have detailed her life before, in a previous blog-commentary in planning for her 98th birthday in 2016. There was a movie too! A wonderful feature film starring famed African-American actress Teraji P. Henson. See that previous original blog-commentary that was published on August 16, 2016, here-now:
** August 26, 2016 **
This day is the 98th birthday for “Katherine Johnson”.
Who is Katherine Johnson? And why is she important in the discussion of Caribbean empowerment?
Katherine Johnson (1918 – ) was a rocket scientist, physicist, and mathematician before there were rocket scientists. Why is this important? It is as 19th century Essayist Oscar Wilde dubbed it:
“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.
The focus here is on the “Art imitating Life”; no, even further than “art” is the “science”. The “art” in this case is the movie “Hidden Figures”. The “science” is the mathematics associated with rockets and trajectory: Rocket Science.
The movie HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. – 20 Century Fox Studio
This is the power associated with film. It’s an art that can promote a science. This is in harmony with a previous blog/commentary – by the Go Lean … Caribbean movement – regarding Caribbean Diaspora member and Hollywood great, Sidney Poitier, it was declared that …
… “Movies are an amazing business model. People give money to spend a couple of hours watching someone else’s creation and then leave the theater with nothing to show for the investment; except perhaps a different perspective”.
The untold story of Katherine Johnson is not so “unfamiliar” to the African-American experience. There has been millions of similar tales, where those with genius-qualifying abilities had to languish in a world where they were considered “less than“. (See the Appendix VIDEO below).
Oh, how wrong that world was!
Today, we tell the tale of Katherine Johnson. We celebrate her for her accomplishments and inspiration she provides to future generations of scientists, mathematicians, African-descendents and women. She is the definition of “Shero”; she is all of that! See how this is portrayed in the new film here, opening in January 2017:
VIDEO: Movie Trailer ‘Hidden Figures’ – https://youtu.be/RK8xHq6dfAo
Published on August 14, 2016 – Watch the new trailer for [the movie] #HiddenFigures, based on the incredible untold true story. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer & Janelle Monáe. In theaters this January .
Why is this discussion of Katherine Johnson important in the discussion of Caribbean empowerment?
This is a story of one person making a difference! Her accomplishments required a resolve, determination and conviction to not buckle under the acute pressure to maintain the status quo. Her efforts and life’s pursuits helped to forge change in her homeland for her and all others that followed. The book Go Lean … Caribbean identified subjects like this as advocates; relating that their successful completion of their advocacy tend to benefit more than just them but the whole world (Page 122).
The story of Katherine Johnson is now being told as a movie. Movies can be effective for the goal of displaying a better view of people … and the community failings they have had to overcome. Previous Go Lean commentaries presented details of other movies that had the potential of reflecting and effecting change in society. See this sample here:
The heroism of Katherine Johnson is against the backdrop of America’s segregation past. There is no way to justify America’s days of racial separation and oppression. Good riddance!
Surely, today our communities reflect a more inclusive environment. Surely?
America, still, and the Caribbean more, is plagued with a “climate of hate” in too many places. Far too often, in our own backyards, a class of people is oppressed, repressed and suppressed just because …
… the reasons do not even matter. It is just plain wrong and unwise and unproductive for our mission to retain our local geniuses.
Our community needs all hands on deck, with everybody contributing: all races, all genders, all ages, all classes of people. This point has also been conveyed in previous Go Lean commentaries; consider this sample here:
The book Go Lean…Caribbean (and subsequent blog/commentaries) relates that we must do better than the American history. We have a problem now with societal abandonment for “push and pull” reasons. In order to encourage people to stay home and impact their homeland, we need to protect and promote those with genius qualifiers. There is a lot at stake.
This Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). Fostering genius is very important to this movement. The book states (Page 27):
The CU assumes a mission of working with educational and youth agencies to identify and foster “genius” in our society, as early as possible. Geniuses are different from everyone else, although they maybe fairly easy to spot, defining exactly what makes one person a genius is a little trickier. Some researchers & theorists argue that the concept of genius is too limiting and doesn’t really give a full view of intelligence; they feel that intelligence is a combination of many factors; thereby concluding that genius can be found in many different abilities and endeavors. The CU posits that any one person can make a difference and positively impact their society; so the community ethos of investment in this specially identified group, geniuses, would always be a worthwhile endeavor.
Fostering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers is integral to the Go Lean/CU roadmap. The goal is to identify students early with high aptitude in STEM areas, then develop them through academies and science fairs. The CU will even fund free tuition for these ones at local colleges/universities or forgive-able loans for those wishing to matriculate abroad. This is a matter of community ethos, defined as in the book as the fundamental spirit of a culture that drives the beliefs, customs and practices of a society. The book refers to this spirit motivating our Focus on the Future. This spirit would be embedded in every aspect of the Go Lean/CU roadmap. See here how the prime directives reflects this:
- Optimization the economic engines of the Caribbean to elevate the regional economy to grow to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new (direct & indirect) jobs, including STEM-related industries with a projection of 40,000 Research & Development direct jobs and 20,000 Technology direct jobs.
- Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the people and economic engines.
- Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these economic and security engines.
The Go Lean roadmap provides turn-by-turn directions on how to reform Caribbean STEM education initiatives – also the economic and governance aspects as a whole. The roadmap opens with a Declaration of Interdependence, pronouncing the approach of regional integration (Page 13 & 14) as a viable solution to elevate the region’s educational opportunities:
xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores …
xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.
xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.
The Go Lean book envisions the CU – a confederation of the 30 member-states of the Caribbean chartered to do the heavy-lifting of empowering and elevating the Caribbean economy. The mission is to mitigate further brain drain of Caribbean citizens with STEM abilities. The book details the economic principles and community ethos to adopt, plus the executions of strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to optimize STEM initiatives in the Caribbean region:
|Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification||Page 21|
|Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives||Page 21|
|Community Ethos – Job Multiplier – Indirect Jobs from Direct Ones||Page 22|
|Community Ethos – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation||Page 23|
|Community Ethos – Minority Equalization||Page 24|
|Community Ethos – Return on Investments||Page 24|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future – Foster a Future Focus||Page 27|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius – For STEM & other fields||Page 26|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship||Page 28|
|Community Ethos – Promote Intellectual Property||Page 29|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Research & Development||Page 30|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Close the Digital Divide||Page 31|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good||Page 37|
|Anecdote – Valedictorian and Caribbean Diaspora Member||Page 38|
|Strategy – Customers – Citizens, Business Community & Diaspora||Page 47|
|Strategy – Meeting Region’s Needs Today, Preparing For Future||Page 58|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Patent, Standards, & Copyrights||Page 78|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Education Department||Page 85|
|Implementation – Assemble all Super-Regional Governing Entities||Page 96|
|Implementation – Trends in Implementing Data Centers||Page 106|
|Implementation – Ways to Deliver||Page 109|
|Implementation – Better Manage Debt – Better Student Loans Dynamics||Page 114|
|Planning – Ways to Improve Trade||Page 128|
|Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better||Page 131|
|Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy||Page 151|
|Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs||Page 152|
|Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education||Page 159|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact Student Loans – Forgivable Provisions||Page 160|
|Advocacy – Ways to Foster Empowering Immigration – STEM Professionals||Page 174|
|Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology||Page 197|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora||Page 217|
The Go Lean movement celebrates Katherine Johnson today as a role model in STEM. (Though she is an African-American with no Caribbean connection). She is recognized worldwide – just wait until the movie is released – as a woman of accomplishment – in 2015 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:
“So if you think your job is pressure-packed, hers meant that forgetting to carry the one might send somebody floating off into the solar system.” – US President Barack Obama said in honoring Katherine Johnson on November 24, 2015.
This day – August 26 – is also Women’s Equality Day – commemorating women being granted the right to vote in the US on August 26, 1920.
So we celebrate all women that strive to achieve; there are those that do a lot; there are also women that choose to do little, or nothing. We celebrate them too. That is their equal right!
Yes, we can all do better than the past experiences from our communities. The Caribbean can be better!
Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, women and men, to lean-in for the empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This roadmap will result in more positive socio-economic changes throughout the region; it will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. 🙂
Appendix VIDEO: Celebrating Katherine Johnson’s Great Mind – Human Computer – https://youtu.be/Bdr9QBRcPEk
Published on Sep 1, 2015 – In the early days of spaceflight, if NASA needed to plot a rocket’s path or confirm a computer’s calculations, they knew who to ask: Katherine Johnson.