Students won’t pursue jobs in which they can’t see themselves. Share these incredible black STEM pioneers with your students this Black History Month.

More and more stories are coming to light about people of color who contributed to some of humankind’s greatest achievements. Their contributions were kept in the shadows simply because of their race. Share the United States’ accurate history of innovation by revealing the work of these black STEM pioneers to students.


Legacy STEM Pioneer: Madam C.J. Walker

black STEM pioneers

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Sarah Breedlove came from humble beginnings, yet built a beauty empire through STEM. While living in St. Louis where her four brothers worked as barbers, Breedlove suffered severe scalp irritation. She began to seek a solution by using some products that were homemade and others from the mainstream market. After taking her second husband’s initials and last name, Breedlove became Madam C.J. Walker. With a manufacturing center, salons, and devoted team of hair culturists–or salespeople–Madam C.J. Walker used science to create a business empire that defied the odds of its time and still thrives today.

Today’s STEM Leader: John Dabiri

black STEM pioneers

Photo Credit: Keith Birmingham

Once a key contributor to groundbreaking research regarding jellyfish propulsion, John Dabiri has also received accolades such as the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and MacArthur Fellowship, as well as recognition from respected STEM publications, such as Popular Science and Bloomberg Business Week. While he is only going to be 37 this year, his work is groundbreaking. With a focus on the relationship between fluid mechanics, energy and environment, and biology, Dabiri’s forward-thinking STEM advancements in sustainable energy are going to shift focus to different resources.