When I was in the 6th grade, I randomly decided that I wanted to be an astronaut. I liked astronomy and planets and I suppose I wanted to see them for myself and walk on the moon. I had no idea what it meant to be an astronaut except riding in a rocket ship to outer space but I was obsessed. I talked about planets and NASA and stars all the time and took weekend astronomy classes. Can you imagine? A Saturday academy for a cool kid like me? Sike, super nerdy. Anywho, I was head over heels with the idea of one day working for NASA and then…
I discovered Mae Jemison.
I have no recollection of what Encyclopedia or library book I found that mentioned Mae Jemison (no, I did not have Google in 6th grade… possibly Ask Jeeves though) but as soon as I found her I was again, obsessed.
Here I am, a little brown-skinned chunky 6th grade Disney Channel loving nerd in love with Pluto (which is a planet, I don’t care what anyone says) and I discover the #blackgirlmagic of Mae Jemison. In my experience, astronauts were middle aged white men. I knew nothing else until the day that Mae Jemison’s beautiful face popped up in front of me. I wrote a report and created a poster of her for either a Black History Month or career project and fell madly in love with this idea that I could be like her when I grew up.
This obsession continued throughout my tragic middle school horror years until I finally realized that science isn’t really my deal and I am much more talented at writing and dancing awkwardly.
My obsession with being a literal space cadet may have vanquished, but I will never forget the impact that Mae Jemison made on my life.
Listen to me when I say this and listen closely:
Dr. Mae Carol Jemison is the FIRST BLACK WOMAN ASTRONAUT.
She became the first African American woman to travel into Space, aboard the Endeavour, in 1992. I was 6 years old. I discovered her 5 years later and fell in love with her magic, her spunk, her audacity. We are talking about a Medical Doctor that decided to follow a dream and apply to NASA’s astronaut training program. We are talking about a woman that entered a white male dominated field and is STILL killing it. We are talking about a Black woman that inspired me, and likely hundreds of other young women, to literally aim for the stars. Because of Dr. Mae Jemison, and many other women along the way (I see you, mommy!) I identified a piece of myself that said, “Hey Black girl, you can do anything. You can be anything and you don’t have to be like anyone else to do it.”
And that is why Dr. Mae C. Jemison is my shero. She may not be yours, you may not have heard her story (below) and you may not even care, but I hope along the course of your life, you are able to identify and know women that inspire you to be your best self.
I am not an astronaut but I am a Black woman inspired and I have Dr. Jemison to thank. She is #blackgirlmagic and I am too.
Learn more about Dr. Mae Jemison’s story below…