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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.

  • July 10, 2023 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for July 10 – 24, 2023 

    Cecilia Payne (May 10, 1900 ­ – December 7, 1979) was the first person to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College, with what Otto Strauve called “the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.” And in 1950’s, Payne became the first female professor and chair of the Astronomy Department at Harvard. Payne’s work is foundational to the modern study of variable stars. She was also awarded the Henry Norris Russell Prize from the American Astronomical Society.

    Learn more here: 

  • June 26, 2023 5:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for June 26 – July 10, 2023 

    Patricia Roberts Harris (May 31, 1924 – March 23, 1985)
    was the first Black woman to sit on the board of a large U.S. public company. With accolades including service as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, and as U.S. secretary of health and human services, Harris made history when she was elected to the board of IBM in 1971. The organization Black Women on Boards recently shed light on Harris’s history-making directorship and this remarkable achievement is now the subject of the documentary OnBoard.

    Learn more...

    The Patricia Roberts Harris Wikipedia page.

    Lila MacLellan, author of Fortune‘s Modern Board newsletter, writes about OnBoard in a new Fortune piece.

  • June 12, 2023 1:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for June 13 – 26, 2023 

    Zitkala-ŠaLakota for Red Bird, aka Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (February 22, 1876 – January 26, 1938) was a political activist who found work wearing many hats – as a Yankton Dakota writer, editor, translator, musician, and educator. Zitkala-Ša recounted her struggles with cultural identity, emphasizing the friction between the majority culture in which she was educated and the Dakota culture into which she was born and initially raised. Her work helped bring traditional Native stories to a mainstream audience and influenced Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

    Learn more….

  • May 30, 2023 9:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for May 30 – June 12, 2023

    Alice Ball (July 24, 1892 – December 31, 1916) was a black chemist in Hawaii who at the age of 23 in 1915 discovered a way of treating leprosy before antibiotics. Unfortunately, others claimed credit for it. Scholar Paul Wermager explains, “Not only did Alice Ball overcome the racial and gender barriers of her time to become one of the very few African American women to earn a master’s degree in chemistry, [but she] also developed the first useful treatment for Hansen’s disease. Her amazing life was cut too short at the age of 24. Who knows what other marvelous work she could have accomplished had she lived.” 

    Learn more…

  • May 08, 2023 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for May 9 – 22, 2023

    The Indian Citizenship Act, established on June 2, 1924, was enacted by Congress to grant citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States. However, some states barred Native Americans from voting until 1957. Learn more about the Indian Citizenship Act and its precursor, the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887, which had devastating on Native American people and their culture.

    Learn more…

  • April 25, 2023 11:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for April 25 – May 8, 2023

    Florence Lois Weber (June 13, 1879 – November 13, 1939) was an American silent film actress, screenwriter, producer and director. In 1914, Weber became the first American woman to direct a full-length feature film and in 1917, she became the first American woman director to own her own film studio. Weber has been noted as one of "the most important and prolific film directors in the era of silent films".

    Learn more…

  • April 04, 2023 10:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for April 4 – 24, 2023

    Dr. Anna Wessels Williams (March 17, 1863 – 1954) was an American pathologist who became the first woman to be elected chair of the laboratory section of the American Public Health Association in 1932. She contributed to the advancement of vaccines and diagnostic tests for many diseases. Williams was hailed as "a scientist of international repute" by New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia upon her retirement.

    Learn More….

  • March 20, 2023 7:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for March 21 – April 3, 2023

    Joy Harjo (May 9, 1951 – present) is the first Native American to be appointed as the United States poet laureate, serving from 2019-2022. Harjo has written nine books of poetry, several plays, children’s books and two memoirs. Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Harjo has received an American Book Award, PEN Center USA literary award, the Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery in the art of poetry from the Academy of American Poets, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, and more. In 2019, Harjo was elected a Chancellor the Academy of American Poets. She directs an arts mentorship program for young Mvskoke women and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

    Learn More….

  • March 06, 2023 11:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for March 7 – 20, 2023 

    Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1856 – August 4, 1931) was the first African American physician admitted to the American College of Surgeons. A pioneering heart surgeonWilliams performed the first successful human open-heart surgery in 1893 at Provident Hospital in Chicago, IL. As an advocate to end racial disparities in the medical field, he co-founded the National Medical Association in 1895, a professional organization for black medical practitioners because the all-white American Medical Association did not grant membership to black doctors.

    Learn more…

  • February 21, 2023 10:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    DID YOU KNOW? for February 21 – March 6, 2023 

    Nancy Grace Roman (May 16, 1925 – December 25, 2018) is known to many as the “Mother of the Hubble” for her foundational role in the observatory’s planning and program structure, paving the way for missions like the Roman Space Telescope (formerly WFIRST). She received her BA degree in Astronomy in 1946 from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and her PhD from the University of Chicago. As a female in astronomy, Roman faced many challenges throughout her career. From a young age she was discouraged from going into astronomy by those around her, and struggled with its male dominance and the roles perceived as appropriate for women.

    Learn more…

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