Events & Programs
Celebrating Black History
Every February, our nation celebrates Black History Month to honor the many black contributions to civilization. This tradition began in 1926 as a week-long holiday created by the Harvard-trained historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson to raise awareness across America and the world about successful black innovators. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to, “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
From the great engineering feats of African Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, to traffic lights, automatic elevator doors, and gas masks, contributions of blacks to society continue to be of astounding significance. At Pacific Science Center, we are excited to join this celebration by highlighting the contributions of black scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians.
We note in 1986 Congress passed Public Law 99-244 (PDF, 142KB) which designated February 1986 as “National Black History Month”. We use the term “black” to echo this designation of Black History Month, while also recognizing that there is a wide black diaspora (mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, from the 1500s to the 1800s) that took millions of people from Western and Central Africa to diﬀerent regions throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. We therefore recognize and honor the various Afro-Caribbean roots captured within the term “black” for Black History Month.
PacSci Statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access
We believe that curiosity and critical thinking are essential to equity and justice for all. We embrace science as a process of inquiry, discovery, and problem solving that helps us better understand our universe and each other. Science has the power to connect people and to develop solutions for the common good.
We commit to our guests, community, and colleagues that we will:
- Use curiosity, critical thinking, and innovation to identify, understand, and reduce inequities and barriers to participation in science.
- Ensure that our facilities, programs, experiences, and the benefits they provide are accessible to people of all backgrounds, and financial, social, physical, and intellectual abilities.
- Be a community laboratory and living room that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
- Include diverse experiences and perspectives in our work, particularly the voices of people who have previously been excluded.
- Honor and better reflect the diverse community we serve.
- Learn from our past, tackle current issues, and create an equitable future.
We prioritize inclusion, diversity, equity and access in order to strengthen our organization and our community. We encourage all members of our community to come together, to celebrate science and each other, and to be curious.
Featured Special Events
Take part in special Make-it, Take-it activities celebrating Black History Month. These hands-on activities were developed are led by Discovery Corps, and each activity features science concepts related to the works of noted Black scientists. Learn more
With a majority-black cast, Black Panther debuted as one of the first socially-conscious superhero films to date. Tackling both the exploitation of African natural resources by Europeans, as well as the division between Africans and those who are the products of the African diaspora, the movie Black Panther was a call for more positive representation for women and men of color. See this award-winning film at PacSci. Learn more
March Wednesdays, 3:45 p.m.
See Hidden Figures, the inspiring story of three remarkable and intelligent black female scientists who worked at NASA during the race to space in the segregated South. Not only is this an important story about civil rights and feminism, it also details one of the biggest achievements in the history of the United States: launching John Glenn into space. Learn more
Celebrate Black Achievements in STEM
We are honored to highlight the contributions of African-American scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. Explore our exhibits and use this card to match each display with the person related to it. Download the Scavenger Hunt
Additional Resources, Events, and Organizations
- Black Girls Code
- Black Heritage Society of Washington
- Center for Racial Justice in Education
- Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Northwest African American Museum
- Seattle Public Library Interview with Seattle artist Jacob Lawrence
- Seattle Public Library Interview with the Reverend Samuel McKinney
- Seattle Public Library’s list of Black Excellence in Children’s Books: PreK-3rd Grade
- Seattle Public Library Seattle Jazz Collection
Who inspires you to be your best?
The teens in our Discovery Corps program told us that, while they look up to people who make big discoveries, real inspiration comes from learning how great people overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams.
We worked with the teens to create Path of Persistence, an exhibit honoring some of the African American scientists whose passion, curiosity and determination led to scientific breakthroughs and inventions that enrich our lives.
Mary Maynard Daly
Katherine Goble Johnson
the start of the shuttle program.
Sylvester James Gates
Mae could have been a dancer, but she always wanted to be an astronaut. Entering college at age 16, she earned degrees in chemistry, Afro-American studies and medicine. But space still called, so Mae applied to NASA. She became the first African American woman in space as crew on the shuttle Endeavour and then formed a company to develop technologies that improve everyday life.
Raised in poverty, the gift of a microscope ignited Bath’s passion for science. Graduating high school in just two and a half years, she chose medicine as her field and dedicated her career to improving eye health. She pioneered the concept of “community ophthalmology” to bring volunteer vision services to low-income populations and received four patents on technologies to treat cataracts.
Physicist and Musician, Dr. Stephon Alexander, has straddled the worlds of theoretical physics and jazz music for more than two decades. Learning a love for music from his Trinidadian grandmother, Alexander went on to obtain his Bachelors of Science from Haverford College, his Doctorate from Brown, and has been a research physicist at the Imperial College of London and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center of Stanford University. A specialist in the field of string cosmology, particle physics, and quantum gravity (String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity), Alexander co-invented the model of inflation called D-Branes and is also an accomplished saxophonist with a critically acclaimed jazz album named Rioux.
Members Get More
- Unlimited admission for a full year.
- Members-only events like previews of new documentaries, after-hours open houses and planetarium shows.
- Passes for guests, IMAX® documentaries and laser shows.
- Members-only discounts at the Café, Store and on programs like camps, birthday parties and 21+ events.
- And much more!