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Past DID YOU KNOW... Postings

DID YOU KNOW? - a biweekly feature from PLATO's Diversity Awareness Committee highlighting the many contributions by non-mainstream individuals you might not have learned or read about. A brief fact will be posted in PLATO's Tuesday WEEKLY UPDATE email and more background on the individual and their accomplishments will be provided on the Social Justice webpage.

Past Did You Know? postings will be available on this archive page.

  • December 12, 2023 10:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW – December 12, 2023 – January 1, 2024

    Ynes Mexia (May 24, 1870 – July 12, 1938) was a Mexican-American botanical collector and explorer who collected 145,000 plant species – an incredible number – especially because she began collecting while in her mid-50’s! Mexia's discoveries continue to impact researchers today and her work can be viewed in many museums and universities.

    Learn more:
  • November 28, 2023 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for November 28 – December 11, 2023 

    Granville T. Woods (April 23, 1856 – January 30, 1910), nicknamed "Black Edison”, was an inventor who held various engineering and industrial jobs before establishing an electric apparatus company. Woods registered more than 50 patents in his lifetime! He was best known for inventing the induction telegraph in 1887. 

    Learn more:

  • November 14, 2023 9:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for November 14 – 27, 2023

    10 Million People. 10 Million Stories. 10 Million Names.

    "10 Million Names is dedicated to recovering the names of the estimated ten million men, women, and children of African descent who were enslaved in pre- and post-colonial America (specifically, the territory that would become the United States) between the 1500s and 1865. 10 Million Names is engaging a collaborative network of expert genealogists, cultural organizations, and community-based family historians. Together they seek to amplify the voices of people who have been telling their family stories for centuries, connect researchers and data partners with people seeking answers to family history questions, and expand access to data, resources, and information about enslaved African Americans.”

    Learn More:

  • October 31, 2023 11:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for October 31 – November 13, 2023 

    Alain LeRoy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was the first African-American man awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1907. As a writer, philosopher, and educator, Locke’s work helped educate white readers about Black culture which flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. His seminal work, The New Negro – a collection of fiction, poetry, and essays by Locke and other African Americans including Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston – was published in 1925. 

    Learn more,,,

  • October 17, 2023 11:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for October 17 – 30, 2023 

    Susie King Taylor (August 6, 1848 – October 6, 1912) is known for many firsts –two of which are being the first Black nurse during the American Civil War and being the first Black woman to self-publish her memoirs. Taylor was also an author and educator in the postbellum South who opened various schools in Georgia and so much more!

    Learn more…

  • October 03, 2023 6:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for October 3 – 16, 2023 

    Mildred Fish (September 16, 1902 – February 1943) was born in Milwaukee and studied and taught English at UW-Madison where she met her German husband, Arvid Harnack. After moving to Germany, the couple joined a small Nazi-resistance group which the Gestapo called the Red Orchestra. Unfortunately, the Nazis executed them for their social justice work. Fish-Harnack was the only American woman executed on the direct order of Adolf Hitler. 

    Learn more at:

  • September 19, 2023 11:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for September 19 – October 2, 2023 

    Dr. Mary Walker (November 26, 1832 – February 21, 1919) was the first woman to be employed as a contract surgeon in the US Army. It was a struggle to be hired in this role – after earning a medical degree in 1855 from Syracuse College, Walker sought to volunteer for service as a surgeon or a spy during the Civil War but was turned down. Since the only option offered her was to serve as a nurse, Walker began treating the wounded and sick as a volunteer civilian doctor and finally the Army recognized her skill and hired her as a contract surgeon.

    Learn more at:

  • August 29, 2023 7:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for August 29 – September 18, 2023 

    Alice H. Parker (1895 – ?) an African American inventor, revolutionized home heating during the 1920’s by patenting a central heating system using natural gas, paving the way for modern central heating systems. Most homes were still reliant upon wood or coal to heat their homes – which made staying warm indoors a laborious task. Parker’s invention utilized natural gas through a network of ducts and vents that distributed heat through the entire home. Her design also offered users the ability to adjust heat to meet individual preferences.

    Learn more at:

  • August 14, 2023 11:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for August 15 – 28, 2023 

    Frederick McKinley Jones (May 17, 1893 – February 21, 1961) invented the first successful system of mobile refrigeration which eliminated the use of ice and salt to preserve food for transport, contributing to the modernization of food transportation services. Jones was the first African-American to be awarded the National Medal of Technology and he patented more than sixty inventions during his prolific lifetime. 

    Learn more at:


  • August 01, 2023 9:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for August 1 – August 14, 2023

    Dr. Lonnie Johnson ((born October 6, 1949), a NASA engineer and founder and president of Johnson Research and Development, invented the Super Soaker while working on spacecraft system designs at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “I was working on a new type of heat pump that would use water as a working fluid instead of freon and I was experimenting…and I machined these nozzles and, I’d hook them up to the sink in my bathroom, and I was looking at the stream of water coming out of a nozzle, and I turned and shot the stream across the bathroom, and I thought jeez it would be neat to have a really powerful toy water gun,” explained Dr. Johnson

    Learn more:

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