Dr. Mae Jemison at UW-Madison
Always Look Up
|Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in
space, speaking at the UW-Madison
up at the sky, ideally at the same time. This initiative is to find more ways to connect and find positive ways to utilize technology.
“What we’re looking at when we celebrate Dr. King is honoring his legacy by cultivating our talents. By looking and reaching our potential. Then using that talent to
create something positive in the world, beneficial to the longevity of humanity and the universe.”
Dr. Jemison addressed using her seat at the table in STEM to provide access and cultivate change. Jemison proudly supports people and uses her platform to
uplift others. She understands the importance of representation and used her trip in 1992 to take Black and African culture to space.
“I tried to take representation of folks or organizations who wouldn’t necessarily have been taken up before,” Jemison said. “I took up a flag for Spelman College,
an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority flag, which is the oldest African American woman’s sorority, which I am an honorary member of. I took up a poster of Judith
Jameson performing the dance, Cry, and a banner for Bundu, which is a women’s’ society in Sierra Leone. I also took a certificate for Chicago Public School
students to do well in math and science, just so that there was that connection.”
Throughout her speech, she quoted Dr. King, Zora Neale Hurston, and a few African proverbs. ‘No one shows the child the sky’ is a proverb that Jemison values.
Jemison uses this proverb in response to questions about her being the first African-American woman in space.
“Kids come out looking up, trying to figure out what’s going on in the world,” Jemison said. “We have that right to. I grew up in the ‘60s, so there were already
people going up into space. I never thought because there’s a white male up in space that I couldn’t be up there. When I was a little kid, I actually thought, ‘What
happens if the aliens only see these guys and they think that everybody on Earth is a buzz cut haired, white male?’”
Dr. Mae Jemison told the audience the importance of believing in yourself and not shrinking to people’s imagination of you. There is positivity in looking up and Dr.
King’s legacy is about just that — looking up, looking towards brighter days. This belief and confidence in herself and her right be in STEM as a Black woman is
what helped her achieve her goals and become the first Black woman astronaut.
“It wasn’t about whether I could see myself there, I could,” Jemison said. “I always assumed I’d go into space. We have every right to blaze all kinds of trails, not
just for ethnicity or gender, but around topics, whether it’s writing, tissue engineering, or even interstellar space flying. We have the right to be involved. I never
hold myself back by thinking I’m going to be the first one. I couldn’t have cared if that had been thousands of people that had gone into space of every color, I want
to go. And if there had never been a single one, I want to go.”
By Angelica Euseary
On Tuesday, January 21, Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel to space
addressed the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Union South’s Varsity Hall celebrating the
legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She provoked the audience by starting her
speech and asking them when was the last time they looked up, viewed the sky and stepped
away from their phones.
“I ask that question because when I was a little kid, this all started with looking up,” said
Jemison. “I remember looking up at the sky and wondering what children on the other side of
the world saw. Did they see the same stars, and what did they think about the clouds? It was
something that connected me. Look up is one of those words that always brings us hope. I
think that connects us with Dr. King because his work was really about looking up. That
inspiration, that hope that we find, I believe that connected us.”
Dr. Jemison values the connection to the world, universe and people around her. She is
currently working on a project, titled Look Up!, where people video record themselves looking