Trailblazers: Highlighting Six Notable Black Americans for Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and one of the important ways we can celebrate and honor Black history is to learn about the incredible contributions Black Americans have made to our lives. 

We’re excited to introduce you to six Black Americans who have impacted their industries and, subsequently, all of our lives. From designing video game consoles to serving as the first Black female fighter pilot, these Black leaders have made history that we should all learn more about. 

Jerry Lawson

Jerry Lawson was the chief hardware engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor’s game division and is credited with designing the electronics behind the Fairchild video game console in 1976. This system was the first to enable players to play against the computer rather than needing another participant to work the game.

Madeline Swegle

Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle made history by becoming the U.S. Navy's first Black female tactical fighter pilot. She received her Wings of Gold during a ceremony on July 31, 2020. Swegle graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017 and is assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron (VT) 21 at Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas.

Mark Dean

Dr. Mark E. Dean is a computer scientist and engineer who holds three of IBM's original nine PC patents for being the co-creator of the IBM personal computer released in 1981. He also helped IBM create the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus, enabling hardware add-on peripheral accessories like printers, disk drives, and keyboards to be plugged directly into the computer. 

Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath's path to becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent in the USA was not an easy one. In interviews, she recalled the long hours needed to complete research and test the new technique she invented that used a laser to dissolve cataracts. But appearing on the television show “Good Morning America” in 2018, she also recounted the systemic racism and sexism she dealt with while establishing herself as an ophthalmologist and embarking on her research.

Mary Eliza Mahoney

Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States. In 1879, Mahoney was the first African American to graduate from an American school of nursing.

Guion Bluford

Guion S. Bluford Jr. is an aerospace engineer who was a decorated Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam before joining NASA in the late 1970s. Colonel Dr. Bluford is the first African American and the second person of African descent to go to space.

These and many more Black Americans have hit important historic milestones and made innovative contributions. We are grateful to our colleagues Renee Turunen, Xavier Cosmopolitan, Evangeline Clarke, Jonathan Vaughters, Jeanette Golden, and Steven Martin at our parent company, Citrix, for their help in highlighting these incredible Black innovators. 

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