Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
National Science Foundation
2005 Black History Month Program
"African-Americans: Pioneers in Math and Science"
Presented by Dr. Aprille Ericsson, NASA
Monday, February 28, 2005
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Thank you, Ron1 . Good morning everyone! Welcome to the second of two programs commemorating Black History Month at the National Science Foundation.
This year's Black History Month theme is, "The Niagara Movement: Black Protest Reborn." It is the 100th Anniversary of the Movement. Last week, Kim Biggs of the National Park Service delivered an enlightening presentation about the Niagara Movement. It was the first African-American civil rights protest of the twentieth century, and the precursor to the NAACP.
Organized by W.E.B. DuBois and William Trotter, the Niagara Movement worked for full political, civil and social rights for African Americans. The Movement also demanded recognition of the human brotherhood that transcends race. As W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, "The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone, but for all true Americans.2 "
I want to focus on this idea of togetherness, as it relates to NSF. Our job is to drive discovery in science and engineering across the land. These discoveries increase knowledge, improve the quality of life, and produce new career and educational opportunities for all Americans.
To accomplish our goals, NSF supports over 216,000 grantees. We have approximately 1,200 employees, along with a vast network of reviewers. The Congress, the President, and most importantly, the American people, have a stake in the Foundation. All of these people are part of the NSF family, and all of them contribute to our mission. To paraphrase Du Bois, we're all in this together.
We must involve as many people as possible to realize the utmost potential of discovery. We need researchers and educators from every facet of life, from every race, religion, and culture. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. NSF must cultivate an appreciation of this diversity and demonstrate the untapped power that it contains. We will not be successful in pushing the thresholds of science and engineering without this reservoir of talent.
However, we cannot promote diversity outside NSF without embracing it inside. That is why observances like Black History Month are so important. By sharing the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans and other under-represented, under-appreciated groups, we can see how all of us, together, benefit from one another's talent, values and often, sacrifices.
The African-American scientists and engineers you're going to hear about today did not set out to help just African-Americans. Like W.E.B. Du Bois, these pioneers blazed new scientific trails for the benefit of all Americans.
I want to thank Dr. Aprille Ericsson, an engineer, for coming to share the adventures of these ground-breaking scientists and engineers.
1 Ron Branch, Director OEO.
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2 Quoted from DuBois's "An Address to the Country," delivered at the conclusion of first Niagara meeting on Aug. 19, 1905.
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Return to a list of Dr. Bordogna's speeches.