Live Long and Prosper

A Star Trek Inspired Story that made history in the African American community.


502nd Air Base Wing

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Black History Month dates back to 1915. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the ASALH and Black History Month, chose the month of February for the observance because it includes the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Tommy Brown/Released)

By Maria Divina Canalita, Staff Writer

Inspiration is everywhere. It’s something you can get from your favorite book, someone who you really admire, anything and for Mae Jemison, her inspiration was African American actress Nichelle Nichols who portrayed Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, her favorite TV Series.

Back then, astronauts were exclusively white and male. But that all changed when she saw Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. She saw something in Uhura that allowed her to see someone that looked like her.

Mae Jemison is like any other girl. She grew up in Chicago playing  with Barbie dolls, dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, and was very interested in science. She was a very smart girl, she got two degrees and served as a Peace Corps Medical Officer in Sierra Leone. She was a tough one.

I was thinking as a little girl growing up that I would be there. When I look at whether we can go to Mars, it’s definitely something we can do.

— Mae Jemison

On 1987, she decided to apply as an astronaut in NASA. On September 12, 1992, Jemison made history.

Becoming the first African American woman to fly off into space, Jemison inducted experiments on the crew as a Mission Specialist on STS-47, the 50th Space Shuttle mission.

After her NASA mission, Jemison established the Jemison Group, a foundation that develops research in science and markets new technologies.

NOVA's Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers