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PHOTO ESSAY

Black Women Entrepreneurs

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Mae Jemison

Mae C. Jemison (right) and colleagues at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Jemison was NASA's first black female astronaut and on 12 September 1992 became the first black woman in space, aboard the shuttle Endeavor. Courtesy NASA; Austin/Thompson Collection.

Mae Jemison (1956– ) was inspired to become an astronaut as a child, while watching the African American actress Nichelle Nichols play Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek television series. From that time forward, her interest in both technology and social issues became the guidelines by which she planned a successful career. After studying science, engineering, and medicine, Jemison applied to the astronaut training program at NASA and fulfilled a lifelong dream in 1992 by becoming the first African American woman in space. After returning to Earth, she founded the Jemison Group, Inc., a technological development firm that encompasses her interests in technology, medicine, environmental issues, and social advancement. Originally inspired by the vision of a black woman in the "man's world" of science and technology, she has herself become an inspiration as an innovator in both science and business.

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