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Black Excellence

Black History Moments

Gladys West and her husband

Gladys West and her husband

Black Excellence

By Byler E. Henry

     The month of February is known as Black History Month, a time to celebrate Black excellence and marks left in history. There are many prominent figures that will be forever remembered, and there are those that are hidden and should be brought to the light. Not just February but January – December, Black excellence and achievements should be celebrated. Research the information on your own because the schools are not going to teach you  everything. With today’s smartphones the information is right at your fingertips, but you may still use the library if you choose.

There are many inventions we use everyday that Blacks either had a hand in or completely invented. One useful invention is the GPS (Global Positioning System). We use this every day and Gladys West de-serves a big thank you. She began working as a math teacher in Sussex County, Virginia for two years after graduating from Virginia State University where she studied mathematics. In 1956, she became the second Black woman to join the Dahlgren, Virginia Naval Base, one of only four Black employees. It was here where she collected location data from orbiting machines and input the data into giant supercomputers, while using early computer software to analyze surface evaluations. She also recorded satellite locations and complex calculations.

She was recognized for her hard work by her super-visor, who recommended her for a commendation in 1979. With a team of engineers, West helped developed the GPS. Now this is an example of Black intelligence. History like this should not be hidden, but out in the open. Gwen James of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority told the story of this innovator to the Associated Press, and now it’s no longer hidden. With such important facts being known, a thank you goes out to Gwen for not keeping this information hidden.

Although Black History Month is in February, let’s not forget about Black History, after this month. It’s a part of history that shouldn’t just be recognized one month out of the year. Research your history and constantly learn about greatness. “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”   – Marcus Garvey.

 

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