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The Journey of Us: A Voyage through Black History

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Like Black history itself, my journey contains multitudes. It began in New York City, where I grew up during the rise of the civil rights movement. The social politics of the time didn’t encourage me—a woman of color--to pursue a career in science, technology or math. But thankfully my father did. He built me my first chemistry set, encouraging me to build, create and fix things even as my childhood lab experiments went awry.

This empowerment pushed me to earn a PhD, land my first job at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and eventually come to Google. Along the way, I kept trying to fix whatever problems I faced.  At AT&T, I patented inventions that helped create Voice Over Internet Protocol (or VoIP, the technology behind communication like text messages), and the technology behind text donations that were popular during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. At Google, I’ve worked with teams to find ways to bring internet connections to more places with things like Project Loon and the deployment of Wi-Fi across India’s railway system.

There were no shortcuts to these challenges, but I forged ahead inspired by two things: my passion for fixing things and knowing that others before me had taken similar paths (and succeeded!).

Black history is filled with stories of people like myself who set out on journeys to challenge the status quo and make things better. Today, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, we celebrate some of these historic and contemporary journeys. Take a guided tour with Google Earth’s "The Journey of Us" collection to explore how Black history has shaped the American experience and continues to move us forward across themes like advocacy, business, dance, education, film, TV and technology.

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    Google Earth’s “The Journey of Us” collection dives into six different cultural themes.

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    Shirley Chisholm's journey in advocacy and politics paved the way for others when she became the first woman and first African American to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972.

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    William Henry Lane’s (more popularly known as “Master Juba”) journey in dance ushered in a new form of dance we now know as “tap.”

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    Issa Rae’s journey in the entertainment world parlayed the viral success of her “Awkward Black Girl” webseries into a television deal with HBO.

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    Marian Croak’s journey in technology changed how we talk and text.

My story is a single pin in a sea of many. The stories include generations of people who pushed boundaries and resisted limiting ideologies as they paved the way for the next generation. While we hope to make their journey a little better than ours, it mostly certainly won’t be easy. People will doubt us, and at times we will doubt ourselves, but through it all we will push forward.

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