Obituary

Reaching for the Moon book cover

 

Katherine Johnson was a talented mathematician in a field dominated by white men.

After graduating high school at the age of 15 in the midst of the Great Depression, she earned a full scholarship to West Virginia State Institute's math department. Johnson briefly taught high school and then in 1940 was one of the first Black graduate students chosen to integrate West Virginia University.

In 1953 she began work as a research mathematician for what would become NASA. Katherine Johnson shattered barriers for all women, but particularly for Black women, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

To celebrate the inspirational life of Katherine Johnson, check out the resources below or explore NASA's website. Learn about her and other amazing barrier-breaking mathematicians and scientists.

This is Johnson's autobiography, but there are many books to introduce readers to her life in the Children's Biography collection.

Kirk Douglas will be remembered, in death as in life, for his enduring lead roles of the mid 20th Century. Most recognized for playing historic Roman revolutionary Spartacus, Douglas is also known for another Stanley Kubrick film, Paths of Glory, and for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life. Check out the list below for his works in film and in print.

Kobe Bryant was one of the most talented and influential athletes of the 20th Century. He was revered around the world for his physical abilities as well as his intellectual prowess. Bryant inspired a generation while encouraging the youth to excel beyond the expectations of others. For more about Kobe and his contributions, check out these materials. 

Ernest J. Gaines was born outside of Baton Rouge, LA in 1933. At age 15, Gaines moved with his family to California, where he encountered greater equal access to education. After attending San Francisco State University, he was awarded fellowship at Stanford. Gaines returned to Louisiana in 1963 and garnered critical acclaim with his 1971 book The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. That book and his 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, were both made into feature films. You may find these titles and other powerful works by Gaines in our collection.

The first African-American to win a Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison has become a household name. In fact, in her 50+ year career, Morrison was awarded dozens of honors for her indelible works including the Pulitzer and the Presidential Medal of Honor. Morrison was active literarily and socially active up to her passing at the age of 88. Her legacy will live on.

Beloved : a novel by Toni Morrison
God help the child by Toni Morrison

John Singleton set a Hollywood standard with "Boyz n' the Hood." The filmed earned him a Best Director Oscar nomination, making him not only the youngest nominee for the category but the first African American nominee. Throughout his too-short career, Singleton wrote, directed, and produced numerous films and television programs.  

From the Royal Shakespeare Company and on the big screen, British actor Albert Finney delighted audiences on both sides of the pond. His lovable gruffness was perfect for roles like Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" and the indomitable Winston Churchill in "The Gathering Storm." Check out the range of his work with DVDs from our collection. 

Mary Oliver was widely known as one of the most prolific, established, and best-selling American poets of all time. Oliver began writing poetry as a teenager and eventually published over thirty volumes of poetry. Her work was heavily influenced by nature and was often deeply introspective. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for American Primitive and the National Book Award in 1992 for New and Selected Poems. Join us in celebrating her life with some materials from our library collection. 

Felicity by 1935- Mary Oliver

Penny Marshall brought joy and tears to American screens big and small over the past 40 years. Marshall first broke out as Laverne on "Laverne & Shirley" and went on to direct "BIG" and "A League of Their Own" to name a few. Join us in celebrating her life with some materials from our library collection. 

Mr. Bush served from 1989 to 1993, "capping a career of more than 40 years in public service. A decorated Navy pilot, he was the last of the World War II generation to occupy the Oval Office. He had been a two-term congressman from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president, under Ronald Reagan. And he achieved what no one had since Martin Van Buren in 1836: winning election to the presidency while serving as vice president." (NY Times)

Click here to see pictures of Mr. Bush's visit to the library in 1992

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