After watching the movie Hidden Figures, which was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture category, I was reminded about how tough and rewarding it can be for Black women in a STEM-related career (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math).
The day after viewing the movie, I got a big ol’ package in the mail…
My anticipation built as I unwrapped the package. Once I removed all the wrapping, I pulled out 50 copies of The Legacy Poster.
Ever year since 1995, Robert Small, a Toronto-based artist, paints a canvas featuring 4-5 people from the Black community who have excelled in their industry or field. It’s released every February during Black History Month. Past posters have featured Marcus Garvey, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Malcolm X.
Celebrated African-Canadians have also been featured, such as:
- Singer/songwriter Liberty Silver
- Canada’s first Black Governor General Michaëlle Jean
- Ontario’s first Lieutenant General Lincoln Alexander
- Billionaire and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin
- Canadian civil rights activist Dudley Laws
The 2017 poster features excellence in STEAM…
First, what is STEAM? It stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. There is much debate on whether STEM should include the arts. I have an opinion based on my own experience, but will flush that out fully in a follow-up post.
For the 2017 poster, Robert decided to feature African-Canadian excellence in STEAM-related careers. His rationale, according to the poster, is that:
The “A” for art was put into STEM education to bring forth the creativity needed to make innovative ideas coming out of STEM flourish. The addition of STEAM to the celebration of African-Canadian history makes it increasingly relevant to a new generation.
Here are the five African-Canadians featured on the 2017 Legacy Poster…
- Scientist Howard McCurdy. Born in London, Ontario, Howard has a PhD in microbiology and physical chemistry. He has authored more than 50 scientific papers and is currently serving the riding of Windsor-Walkerville as a Member of Parliament.
- Engineer Nasra Agil. She graduated the top of her class from Ryerson University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. With her experience as a civil engineer for the transportation services for the City of Toronto, Nasra returned to her country of birth, Somalia, to serve as an infrastructure advisor to the Somalia federal government.
- Recording artist and philanthropist Jully Black. Names as one of “The 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever” by CBC Music, Jully has been dubbed “Canada’s Queen of R&B Soul.” Jully is a platinum-selling recording artist and uses her platform to inspire others to celebrate the greatness that lies within. BTW, I’m such a fangirl of Jully’s.
- Mathematician Kenneth Fells. Kenneth is a principal and an activist who seeks to improve the educational experiences of African-Canadians. He can trace his ancestral roots to the historical Black communities of Yarmouth and Greenville prior to the Black Loyalists. He’s the recipient of both the Gold and Diamond Jubilee medals issued by Queen Elizabeth II and he’s the first African from Nova Scotia to wear the rank of lieutenant colonel.
- I represent the T in STEAM on the 2017 poster. You can read about my tech journey on my about page.
So, what can you do to help me celebrate?
- Buy one of the posters. It’s a great way to celebrate Black History Month. Get one for yourself, get a few to post around your office or school, or get more. Click here for info on how to purchase the 2017 poster.
- Invite me to talk to your group. Discover how the various innovations I’ve developed in technology has helped me to live on my tippy toes. A fun, inspiring talk for your students, annual general meeting, conference, or trade show. Book me for your next event by filling out the contact form.
- Interview me. If you have a podcast, radio show, or television program, I’d love to share my journey. I’d love to share my thoughts on STEM vs STEAM, why there aren’t more Blacks working in STEM-related careers, and why I don’t believe racism has held me back (and what has). Great feature if you’re looking to fill a Black History month segment for your program. Click here to get in touch.