Dr. George Carruthers was born October 1,, 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio to a father who was a civil engineer and a mother who was a homemaker. The family lived in Milford, Ohio, where Carruthers developed his love for science as an avid science fiction reader and developing model rockets. With a growing interest in Astronomy, he built his first telescope out of cardboard at the age of ten. Suddenly Carruthers’ father passed away, forcing his family to move to Chicago where he was able to spend time at libraries and museums. He joined various clubs associated with the Adler Planetarium and became a member of the Chicago Rocket Society. He was also able to satisfy his growing interest in space by reading books at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. In 1957 he graduated from Englewood High School then enrolled into the University of Illinois.
During his seven year stint at the University of Illinois, Carruthers graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1961, a master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering in 1962, and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronomical Engineering 1964. During his graduate studies, Carruthers was as a research and teaching assistant, working with plasma and gasses. After earning his Ph.D. Carruthers accepted a position with the Naval Research Laboratory in 1964, as a research physicist, having received a fellowship in Rocket Astronomy from the National Science Foundation. After joining the Naval Research Laboratory, Carruthers focused on far ultra violet astronomy, observing the earth’s upper atmosphere and astronomical phenomena. In 1966 Carruthers became a research assistant at the Naval Research Laboratory’s E.O. Hubert center for Space Research, where he researched ways to create visual images as a means of understanding the physical elements of deep space. His main focus was to create a device to illuminate and analyze ultraviolet radiation.
In 1969, Carruthers received a patent for his invention the “Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in short wave lengths”, which detected electromagnetic radiation in short wave lengths. Carruthers was the principle inventor of the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph, which was used in the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. The camera allowed views of stars and celestial bodies and looked into the solar system thousands of miles away. A second version of the camera was sent on the Skylab space flight to study Comets in 1974. The camera actually allowed a user to see the amount of pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere. For the first time in history scientist were able to detect hydrogen in space, which gave an indication that plants were not the only source of oxygen for the Earth which lead to a debate about the origin of the stars.
George Carruthers was a force in the areas of astronomy and physics and was active in outreach programs seeking to bring science to the youth around the Nation. He was named Black Engineer of the Year in 1987, awarded the Arthur Fleming award in 1971, the Exceptional Achievement Scientific Award from NASA in 1972, the Warner prize in 1973 and inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003. He was a leader who had the courage to take the road less travelled, and excelled within his fields. Carruthers was an inspiration and a prime example of hard work, imagination and greatness. Dr. George Carruthers, we stand on your shoulders.
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On July 25th, 1963 Lisa Williamson aka Sister Souljah was born in the Bronx, New York. She grew up in poverty stricken housing projects until her family moved to Englewood, New Jersey at the age of ten. Her new home was in a wealthy black community, far different from her home in the Bronx. While attending Dwight Morrow High School she noticed that African history was purposely left out of the curriculum. She felt that it was important for black and white students to understand the contributions African people gave the world. However, she used her free time to educate herself on Africa’s people, history and contributions to the world.
As a high school student Sister Souljah had the privileged of serving as a legislative intern in the House of Representatives. She also won the American Legion’s Constitutional Oratory Contest, scholarship to attend Cornell University’s Advanced Summer Program. She attended college at Rutgers University where she traveled abroad quite frequently. She visited Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Russia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and Mozambique. In 1985 Sister Souljah graduated from Rutgers University with a dual major in American History and African Studies. She also gained a reputation on campus for speaking out about injustices against blacks and others. One of her efforts as a student activist was bringing Jessie Jackson to Rutgers to speak against the university’s unsettling investments in an apartheid stricken South Africa.
One of her most memorable accomplishments was successfully organizing an effort to get Rutgers University to divest more than $1 billion of its dollars into apartheid-era South Africa. After college, sister Souljah accepted a job offer by Reverend Benjamin Chavis working with the United Church of Christ Commission for Radical Justice. For the next three years she worked developing programs for a six week summer sleepaway camp. Creating these programs helped her build the skills to create, organize and finance programs for her people. Her next step was becoming the organizer of the National African Youth-Student Alliance. Sister Souljah used her organization and her voice to bring attention to the injustices and violence against blacks.
During the 1990’s Sister Souljah became a public figure because of her speaking out against racism. She frequently appeared on television and radio shows which gave her a platform to uplift and empower others. She became the face of racial controversy due to her enlightening others about racism. But the criticism did not stop Sister Souljah from leaving her mark on the African-American and Hip-Hop communities. As a Hip-Hop artist she was able to give her message to a wider range of black youth around the world. She appeared on several songs with Public Enemy, and eventually became a part of the group after Professor Griff left. In 1992, her debut Album titled 360 Degrees of Power was released but her album received little attention after her first two music videos were banned by MTV.
Sister Souljah became infamous amongst the American press because of the “Sister Souljah moment.” Her statement “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?”; made her a rogue in the eyes of her opposition. Sister Souljah along with Jessie Jackson was criticized by then President Bill Clinton about her remarks as a member of the Rainbow Coalition. She would later become an avid author of such books as No Disrespect, The Coldest Winter Ever, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story, Midnight: and the Meaning of Love, and A Deeper Love Inside: the Porsche Santiago Story. She often writes articles for Essence Magazine and has also written for the New York Times. Sister Souljah is dynamic, brilliant, resilient and explosive when it comes to uplifting her people. She uses her time to continuously educate and empower the youth she comes in touch with. Sister Souljah, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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On December 31st, 1918, Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan was born in a Falasha community in Ethiopia to an Afro-Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father. He received his education in various countries such as Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, and Spain. Dr. Ben-Jochannan received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico in 1938. In 1939 he received his Master’s degree from the University of Havana, Cuba in Architectural Engineering. He also received his doctoral degrees from the Universities of Havana, Cuba, and Barcelona, Spain, in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History.
Dr. Ben-Jochannan traveled to the United States in the early 1940’s. While living in the U.S., he continued his schooling despite the fact that he was working as a draftsman to make a living. In 1945 he was appointed the chairman of the African American studies department at UNESCO; a position he held until 1970. Dr. Ben-Jochannan would later begin teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College and City College in New York, City, in 1950. The Dr.’s next move was becoming an adjunct professor at Cornell University. He gained notoriety for his authorship of 49 books mostly on the subject of the Nile Valley civilizations. His findings showed that the Nile Valley civilizations had a significant influence on Western cultures. He also affirms that the original Jews were black Africans from Ethiopia, and white Jews took their culture. Since 1957 Dr. Ben-Jochannan has coordinated regular tours to the Nile Valley showing people the truth of the African civilizations.
Dr. Ben-Jochannan moved to Harlem, New York in 1945 and was a student of the great George G.M. James the author of Stolen Legacy. Despite his busy schedule and many accomplishments, the great doctor still found time to become a trained lawyer. He also has made several appearances on Gil Noble’s television series Like It Is. In 2002 he donated his personal library of 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to the Nation of Islam.
Dr. Ben-Jochannan is often criticized for promoting black supremacy; but I say he promotes black consciousness. He has dedicated his life to uplifting and empowering the black man across the globe. The information he has presented challenged the more commonly accepted versions of history. These historical stories have conveniently left out the contributions of the African to the civilization of mankind. Because of heroes like Dr. Ben-Jochannan generations of African people around the globe have a stronger sense of pride and history. He’s taught us that the African has made a significant contribution to mankind and civilization. Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, we stand on your shoulders.
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On May 13, 1945, Kathleen Cleaver was born in Memphis, Texas to college educated parents who helped set a foundation for a successful life. Her father was a professor of sociology at Wiley College, her mother held a master’s degree in mathematics. Kathleen’s father accepted a job as the director of the Rural Life Counsel of Tuskegee University moving the family to Alabama. Soon after their move her father began working with the Foreign Service. During this time the family lived in India, the Philippines and Sierra Leone. Kathleen Cleaver would eventually return the United States where she would go on to graduate high school with honors in 1963. After graduation she would attend Oberlin College and later transferred to Bernard College before dropping out in 1966. Her next step was to work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
While attending Fisk University Kathleen organized a student conference, there she would meet her soon to be husband, Eldridge Cleaver. In 1967 she moved to San Francisco and joined the Black Panther Party. Kathleen and Eldridge would become husband and wife in December of 1967. Kathleen would begin to rise in the ranks of the black panthers. She became the communications secretary and the first female of the Panther’s decision making body. She would also serve as the spokesperson and press secretary for the Party. Kathleen was the initial organizer of the national campaign to free Huey Newton from jail. In 1968 she ran for the 18th state assembly district, she received 4% of the votes finishing third out of four candidates. The Cleavers became a target of police investigations which led to a raid of their house in 1968.
Kathleen would move to Algeria following a confrontation between Eldridge and the Oakland Police. Eldridge Cleaver fled the United States and went to Cuba before he would reunite with Kathleen in Algeria. In 1975 Kathleen returned to the United States and continued her education. She would receive her B.A. in history from Yale in 1984, and earned a Phi Beta Kappa election. In 1989 Kathleen would receive a law degree from Yale Law School, as well as became an associate at the Law firm of Cravath, Swain and Moore. She would later become a clerk for Judge A. Leon Higginbotham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She served on the Georgia Supreme Court Commission for Racial and Ethnic bias and served as a board member of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. Kathleen has used her time to help former Black Panther Party leader Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt gain his freedom after a 27 year prison sentence for a crime he did not commit.
Kathleen Cleaver is a Senior Research Associate at Yale Law School and she is the executive producer of the Black Panther Party Film Festival. She has won numerous fellowships for her writing from institutions such as the Bunting Institute of Radcliff College and the W.E.B. Dubois Institute of Harvard University. Kathleen Cleaver is beautiful, brilliant, relentless, and a true agent of freedom and change. Mrs. Kathleen Cleaver, we stand on your shoulders.
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