'The Black Museum: An Exhibition of Black Excellence' at SUNY Poly Utica celebrates STEM achievements by African Americans

'The Black Museum: An Exhibition of Black Excellence' at SUNY Poly Utica celebrates STEM achievements by African Americans

Friday, February 8, 2019 - 09:56
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Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) achievements by African Americans were celebrated Thursday, February 7, 2019, with the opening of “The Black Museum: An Exhibition of Black Excellence” at SUNY Poly Utica’s Student Center, where faculty, students and staff gained a powerful perspective on the STEM successes that many in the black community have achieved.

The museum, presented in partnership with the Black Latino Asian Student Union (BLASU), Office of Student Activities, and the Residential Life and Housing Office, featured photos and biographies of influential black women and men who played critical roles in STEM fields, politics, arts, theater, and civil rights. 

BLASU President Dominique Herring, a SUNY Poly junior majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, said the museum’s goal was to highlight accomplishments made by many in this community so that they don’t go unnoticed.

“We want to honor all the black icons who came before us who are in the STEM field because you don’t always see that many black people in the STEM field,” Dominique said. “Being students of color who are at this institution, in particular, it’s important to value our roots.”

Among those personal stories on display were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., surgical technician Vivien Thomas, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, and Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, whom Dominque credits as a major influence.

“I always thought it was so cool—a black woman who is an astronaut, who is an engineer, who has worked hard her whole life to do these great things,” Dominique said. “I kind of want everyone else to have that excitement.”

Kaila Aimino, assistant director of Residential Life at SUNY Poly's Utica campus, said she hopes the culmination of the museum with Black History Month will raise student awareness of black accomplishments and that success isn't determined by skin color. 

“When it comes to STEM fields and programming…people of any race, any gender can go out and accomplish things,” she said.

The museum was open from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m., however, Kaila said it may reopen throughout the rest of the month.

BLASU and the Student Government at SUNY Poly’s Utica campus also hosted a showing of “The Hate U Give” later Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in the Student Center where a discussion on police violence followed.

(Pictured L-R: Kaila Aimino, assistant director of Residential Life and Housing, Dominique Herring, president of BLASU, Sharda Torres, BLASU, and Adrienne Victor, assistant director of Student Activities)