Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said: "Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty." Most of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with famous orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965. Although offered roles with many important European opera companies, Anderson declined, as she had no training in acting. She preferred to perform in concert and recital only. She did, however, perform opera arias within her concerts and recitals. She made many recordings that reflected her broad performance repertoire of everything from concert literature to lieder to opera to traditional American songs and spirituals. Between 1940 and 1965 the German-American pianist Franz Rupp was her permanent accompanist.
Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. She sang before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions. Anderson continued to break barriers for black artists in the United States, becoming the first black person, American or otherwise, to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955. Her performance as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at the Met was the only time she sang an opera role on stage.
Anderson worked for several years as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a "goodwill ambassadress" for the United States Department of State, giving concerts all over the world. She participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.
Crispus Attucks (c.1723—March 5, 1770) may have been an American slave or freeman, merchant seaman and dockworker of Wampanoag and African descent. His father was likely a slave and his mother a Natick Indian. He was the first casualty of the Boston Massacre, in Boston, Massachusetts, and is widely considered to be the first American casualty in the American Revolutionary War.
Little is known for certain about Attucks beyond that he, along with Samuel Gray and James Caldwell, died "on the spot" during the incident. Two major sources of eyewitness testimony about the Boston Massacre, both published in 1770, did not refer to Attucks as a black man or "Negro"; it appeared that Bostonians accepted him as mixed race. Historians disagree on whether Crispus Attucks was a free man or an escaped slave; but agree that he was of Wampanoag and African descent. He was put into a foster home at a very young age.While the extent of his participation in events leading to the massacre is unclear, Attucks in the 18th century became an icon of the anti-slavery movement. He was held up as the first martyr of the American Revolution along with the others killed. In the early 19th century, as the abolitionist movement gained momentum in Boston, supporters lauded Attucks as a black American who played a heroic role in the history of the United States. Because Attucks had Wampanoag ancestors, his story also holds special significance for many Native Americans.
Sarah Breedlove (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
Like many women of her era, Sarah experienced hair loss primarily because of poor diet, hygiene practices and harsh products like lye that were included in soaps used to cleanse the hair. Because most Americans lacked indoor plumbing, central heating and electricity, they bathed and washed their hair infrequently. Initially she learned about hair care from her brothers, who owned a barber shop in St. Louis.
Around the time of the 1904 World's Fair, she became a commission agent selling products for Annie Turnbo Malone, an African American hair care entrepreneur. While working with Annie Malone, she adapted her knowledge of hair and hair products. She moved to Denver to work on her hair care products, and married Charles Joseph Walker, a newspaper advertising salesman. She emerged with the name Madam C. J. Walker, an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams. After their marriage Charles Walker provided advice on advertising and promotion, while Madam C. J. Walker trained women to become "beauty culturists" and to learn the art of selling. In 1906, Madam Walker put her daughter A'Lelia (née McWilliams) in charge of the mail order operation while she and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern United States to expand the business.
Inspired by the model of the National Association of Colored Women, she began to organize her sales agents into local and state clubs. In 1917 she convened her first annual conference of the Madam Walker Beauty Culturists in Philadelphia. During the convention she gave prizes not only to the women who had sold the most products and brought in the most new sales agents, but also to those who had contributed the most to charity in their communities. She stressed the importance of philanthropy and political engagement. This had a huge impact on expanding her business. She also started her own mail order business to keep up with the booming business, placing her daughter A’Lelia Walker in charge of it.
While her daughter Lelia (later known as A'Lelia Walker) ran the mail order business from Denver, Madam Walker and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern states. They settled in Pittsburgh in 1908 and opened Lelia College to train "hair culturists." In 1910 Walker moved to Indianapolis where she established her headquarters and built a factory, hair salon, and beauty school to train her sales agents. She later added a laboratory to help with research.] Sarah, now known as Madam C. J. Walker, was becoming very successful. Her business market expanded beyond the United States to Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Panama, and Costa Rica.
She began to teach and train other black women in women's independence, budgeting, and grooming in order to help them build their own businesses. She also gave lectures on political, economic and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. In 1917 she started the Walker Hair Culturists Union of America convention, which ended up being the first national meeting of American women brought together to discuss business and commerce. She got involved in political matters, joining the executive committee of the Silent Protest Parade. It was a public demonstration of more than 8,000 African Americans to protest a riot that killed 39 African Americans.
Matthew Alexander Henson (August 8, 1866 – March 9, 1955) was the first African-American Arctic explorer, an associate of Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years. They made six voyages and spent a total of 18 years in expeditions. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, traded with Inuit and learned their language, and was known as Peary's "first man" for these arduous travels.
During their 1909 expedition to Greenland, Henson accompanied Peary in the small party, including four Inuit men, that has been recognized as the first to reach the Geographic North Pole (although this has also been subject to dispute). Henson was invited in 1937 as a member of The Explorers Club due to his achievement and was the first African American to be accepted. In 1948 he was made an honorary member, a distinction for 20 persons annually. Based on research into Peary's diary and astronomical observations, Wally Herbert, a later Arctic explorer who reached the North Pole in 1969, concluded in 1989 that Peary's team had not reached the pole. This has been widely accepted, but some dispute this conclusion.
Henson published his memoir, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (1912), which included a foreword and praise by Peary. Since the late 20th century, Henson's contributions have received more recognition. By presidential order, in 1988, the remains of Henson and his wife were reinterred with a monument at Arlington National Cemetery, near that for Peary and his wife. Henson has received numerous posthumous honors since then. In the late 20th century, Henson's and Peary's elderly sons by their Inuit "country wives" were tracked down, and their descendants invited to the United States to meet other family members, as well as to attend the 1988 ceremonies.
Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1856 – August 4, 1931) was an African-American general surgeon and performed the second successful pericardium surgery to repair a wound. He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.
At the time that he graduated from medical school, black doctors were not allowed to work in Chicago hospitals. As a result, in 1891, Williams started the Provident Hospital (Chicago) and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois. This was established mostly for African-American citizens.
Williams was the second to have successfully performed pericardium surgery to repair a wound. Henry Dalton was the first. Dalton successfully performed pericardium surgery a repair a wound in 1891, with the patient fully recovering. Earlier surgeries on the pericardium, which resulted in the death of the patient, were attempted by Francisco Romero in 1801 and Dominique Jean Larrey in 1810.
In 1893 Williams repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish, the second on record. Cornish, who was stabbed directly through the left fifth costal cartilage, had been admitted the previous night and Williams made the decision to operate the next morning in response to continued bleeding, cough and "pronounced" symptoms of shock. He performed this surgery, without the benefit of penicillin or blood transfusion, at Provident Hospital, Chicago, on 10 July 1893, though it would not be reported until 1897. About fifty-five days later, James Cornish had successfully recovered from the surgery. In 1893, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland, Williams was appointed surgeon-in-chief of Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C., a post he held until 1898 when he married and moved to Chicago. In addition to organizing the hospital, Williams also established a training school for African-American nurses at the facility.
Williams was a teacher of Clinical Surgery at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and was an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He worked to create more hospitals for accessibility to African Americans. In 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for African American doctors, and in 1913 he became a charter member and the only African American doctor in the American College of Surgeons.
In the following account, Professor Allison Blakely of Boston University describes the presence of blacks in Early Modern Europe. His article reminds us that persons of African ancestry resided across Europe. Their numbers ranged from a few hundred scattered across Germany, Scandinavia and Russia in the period between the 16th and 18th Centuries to approximately 150,000 on the Iberian peninsula. His discussion below is excerpted from a larger article written for the American Historical Society in 1999.
There is a risk in asking 20th-century questions of earlier times because today’s terms of discourse may not find a meaningful context there. It is likewise problematic to project onto European history social and cultural constructs that have evolved in the United States, and perhaps nowhere else, in quite the same form. Such is the dilemma we face in considering the influence of blacks in European history for a primarily American audience.
A discussion of the influence of black Africans on Europe and on Europeans is complicated by the absence of a universal definition of black. In general, the designation black in Europe, unlike in the United States, has been reserved for those of dark color, not the broader definition based on known black African ancestry. Consequently, awareness of a black population in Europe has been limited by the fact that when interracial marriage occurred, subsequent light-complexioned generations might never be referred to again as black. Hence the debate over whether Alexandre Dumas père, who had African ancestry through his father and paternal grandmother, was black. Consistent with the predominant European attitude, he emphatically rejected the notion that he was. Besides, in his France—as in all the other European societies—class was far more important than color, at least until the 20th century. The great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, who took pride in his African ancestry, shrugged off aspersions cast on that score, but took great offense at those who did not respect the centuries of nobility on his father’s side.
Is it legitimate, therefore, for a historian to count these two 19th-century literary giants as evidence of an African influence? Has racial thought in Europe had the same degree of significance as in the United States? Have blacks in Europe experienced a kind of positive “invisibility” in contrast to the destructive American type chronicled by Ralph Ellison? On the surface the European racial definition seems more egalitarian. However, the history in question suggests also the possibility of an attempt to ignore or minimize the influence of a group considered sufficiently undesirable to have been excluded by law from European countries at various times. For teachers and students of history a resultant practical problem is the absence of clear references to race in documents such as census data where it might be quite useful. Moreover, among scholars, few have found the experience of blacks in Europe to merit special attention; and even those few of African descent who have achieved high status have done so by following the accepted conventions and by avoiding drawing attention to either their African heritage or to African characteristics in their societies. This has been left to blacks in former colonies, not in Europe.
This brief essay uses selected examples from continental European societies to discuss some of the issues that must be confronted in studying the influence of Africa and Africans on continental Europe.
Africa and Africans have had an influence on European thought and culture far disproportionate to the size of the small black population (which, for example, approached 150,000 in the Iberian peninsula in the 16th century, and by the 18th Century amounted to just several thousand in France, a few thousand in the Netherlands, and several hundred scattered through Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia. Only in the 20th century would the combined numbers reach the hundreds of thousands. The most striking example of that disproportionate influence can be seen in the 20th century, in Soviet Russia, which as part of its messianic role chose Black Africa and blacks in America as symbols for the Communist championing of the downtrodden; elected blacks as honorary members of the Moscow City Council; and named a mountain after Paul Robeson.
Three interesting examples of people of African ancestry who had distinguished careers in Germany, Russia and the Netherlands suggest the ways in which race is mediated in Modern Europe. The first, Anthony William Amo, gained fame in Germany for his philosophical studies. Born on the Gold Coast around 1700, he was taken to Amsterdam by the West India Company when he was about 10 years old and was presented to the Duke of Wolfenbüttel. He was baptized in Wolfenbüttel in 1707 and given the names Anton and Wilhelm in honor of the reigning duke and his son. A grant from the duke allowed Amo to be educated to a point where he was able to enter the universities at Halle, in 1727, and Wittenberg, in 1730, where he became skilled in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Dutch and concentrated on philosophy. In 1734 he was awarded the doctorate degree from the University of Wittenberg with a dissertation on “De humanae mentis apatheia” (“On Apathy in the Human Mind”). In his philosophical work he was a rationalist, devoting special attention to mathematical and medical knowledge in the context of Enlightenment thought. He became a lecturer at the University of Halle and later at the University of Jena until the 1750s.
Among the few fairly prominent black figures in Dutch history who at least briefly caught the public eye, the earliest was the former slave Jacobus Capitein, so named because a Dutch captain brought him to Leiden, where he was put into school, mastered several European languages, and eventually became a predicant (preacher) after completing theological training at the University of Leiden in 1742. He became famous as author of a treatise that defended slavery as an avenue to redemption for Africans. His portrait, circulated widely, advertising that blacks could be transformed by Christianity and Western civilization. Prior to going off to what was to prove a disastrous mission in his homeland on the Gold Coast, he preached a number of times in Holland to audiences who flocked to see this novelty.
The first black to attain high recognition in Russia was Abram Hannibal, the African slave who became a favorite of Tsar Peter the Great and was the maternal great-grandfather of Pushkin, the single most revered figure in all of Russian culture. Brought to Russia at the beginning of the 18th century as part of a group of young black prospective servants, Hannibal, under the tsar’s sponsorship, went on to attain a high level of education in France and, after returning to Russia, eventually advanced to the rank of major general in the army engineers. He brought back to Russia a personal library of 400 books, one of the largest and most up-to-date in the empire, and himself published a two-volume compilation on geometry and construction techniques. The owner of several estates, complete with serf labor, he served from 1743 to 1751 as Commandant of the city of Reval (in Estonia) on the Baltic. He later directed major canal and other construction projects.
There were persons of African ancestry who achieved distinction in Moorish Iberia and later in Spain and Portugal, the European societies that first saw a large influx of blacks. Most of these notables were mulattos: for example, Cristóbol de Meneses, a Dominican priest; the painters Juan de Pareja and Sebastian Gomez; and Leonardo Ortiz, a lawyer. Among the few dark-skinned blacks who achieved high status was Juan Latino, a slave from Africa who through his master’s benevolence was educated at the University of Granada. There were also some other signs of respect for blacks during these centuries. In 1306 an Ethiopian delegation came to Europe to seek an alliance with the “King of the Spains” against the Moslems. King Anfós IV of Aragon considered arranging a double marriage with the Negus of Ethiopia in 1428. And the Portuguese sent Pedro de Corvilhao to Ethiopia in 1487 on a similar mission.
Meanwhile the actual living experience of blacks in Europe appeared to be marked by smooth integration into European society, with the role of lower-class blacks determined very much by that of their masters or employers. The 140,000 slaves imported into Europe from Africa between 1450 and 1505 were a welcome new labor force in the wake of the Bubonic Plague. On the whole, blacks in Christian Iberia were not limited to servile roles; but they were also not influential as a group. The new slave population in Portugal worked in agriculture and fishing. Free blacks living in Loulé and Lagos in the southern edge of Portugal owned houses and worked as day laborers, midwives, bakers, and servants. Most were domestic servants, laborers (including those on ships and river craft), and petty tradesmen. Some free blacks, especially women, became innkeepers. Blacks in Spain served as stevedores, factory workers, farm laborers, footmen, coachmen, and butlers. Male and female domestics apparently lived well compared to other lower-class people. Slaves could work in all the crafts, but could not join the guilds. A few Africans active in the Americas during the early Iberian expansion were among returnees to Portugal and Spain from America and Africa from the 16th to the 18th centuries. These included free mulatto students, clerics, free and slave household servants, sailors, and some who attained gentlemen’s status. The use of many black women slaves as domestics and concubines led to mulatto offspring who received favored treatment, and in some instances, attained middle-class and even aristocratic status.
In surveying the later experience of blacks in the northern, central, and eastern European societies, there is a striking similarity to the patterns in Iberia, but with smaller populations before the 20th century. In those societies it became fashionable for the wealthy to employ blacks as house servants and in ceremonial roles such as military musicians. The Dutch entry into the African slave trade, beginning in the 17th century which eventually accounted for the removal of about half a million Africans to the Americas, magnified the image of blacks as a servile race in Dutch society. This was one of the factors increasingly reinforcing a low esteem for blacks in other parts of Europe as well by the 18th century.
The basis for denigration of blacks must also be sought, however, in underlying notions within European cultures. Images of blacks and attitudes about blacks were present in Europe long before there was a significant physical presence. In visual arts, religion, epics, and legends, the Middle Ages provide a fascinating array of vivid illustrations of this point. There is a persistent pattern of ambivalence in the attitudes of white Europeans toward blacks that has survived over the centuries, always containing both positive and negative features, but usually tilting toward the latter. Imagery based upon religious themes illustrates especially well the ambivalence in question. Black saints were proclaimed in parts of medieval Europe when the Holy Roman Emperors, beginning with Charles IV’s ascension in 1346, adopted blacks into the iconography of their realm. The statue of St. Maurice in the chapel of St. Kilian at Magdeburg and the 17th-century bust of St. Gregory the Moor at the church of St. Gereon in Cologne testify to the strength of these notions. This special recognition aimed not only to acknowledge the contribution of African martyrs to the Christian cause, but also to amplify the scope of the German emperor’s realm and affirm the relevance of Christianity to all peoples.
Yet even some of the most beautiful art depicting blacks had darker undertones. The Adoration of the Magi was the single most popular religious theme featuring blacks in European art. The black king, handsome with noble bearing, was usually depicted as the youngest, presumably symbolizing Africa as the continent just beginning to participate in world affairs. This hint at backwardness is of course the negative aspect. Another biblical theme with a similarly ambiguous message was that surrounding the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, described in a passage of the Book of Acts. Although this may be interpreted as celebrating a missionary role for Christianity, it also implies European cultural superiority. Moreover, this theme becomes even more negative when it is associated with a popular symbol derived from a passage in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah, where the impossibility of an Ethiopian changing his color is mentioned in a discussion of sin and punishment (Jeremiah 13: 22-25). In the emblematic tradition widely published in western Europe during the early modern period, a “washed Moor” was the symbol for futility.
The Hamitic legend is an older and better known religious theme bearing a negative connotation for blacks. The convergence of this legend (as well as that on the Ethiopian baptism) with the rise of the African slave trade represents just the type of historical fusion that can help explain the depth of modern racism’s roots: that is, myth seemingly confirmed by experience. Other imagery concerning blacks drawn more from the historical experience than from imagination might be cited from epics, legends, and literature. An illustrative medieval literary work is Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzifal, drawn from the legend of King Arthur and his court, which evolved for centuries in England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The images of the blacks in the story are at times positive and at others negative, sometimes noble, at others ridiculous. Also, precursing a familiar theme of the present day, the males have uncontrollable sexual appetites. The depiction of blacks as tormentors and sexual symbols was also popular. Among Satan’s titles in literature and folklore were the names “black knight,” “black man,” “big Negro,” “black Jehovah,” and “black Ethiopian.” Such figures as Ruprecht and Black Pete (Zwarte Piet), the sometimes benevolent bogeymen who accompany the Saint Nicholas figure in the Christmas celebrations in Germany and the Netherlands, show that the ambivalence persists.
In the 19th and 20th centuries the apparent assumed inferiority of blacks would become cloaked in supposedly scientific racist theories, such as those of Joseph Gobineau and Adolf Hitler. Reservations about the character of blacks, even when not spoken, have been among the reasons for limiting entry of blacks into Europe and for opposing racial mixture. The ambivalence of Europeans, like their white American counterparts, toward equal acceptance of blacks in few fields other than sports or music reflect deeply embedded stereotypes that have continued to overshadow the real role of blacks in European history and culture.
SUBJECTS:Global African History, PerspectivesTERMS:Europe - France, Europe - Germany, Europe - Netherlands (Holland), Europe - Spain, Europe - Denmark, 16th Century (1500-1599), Europe - Russia, Africa - Ethiopia, Europe - Sweden, Europe - Norway, Europe - Portugal, Europe - Great Britain - England
Henry Highland Garnet (December 23, 1815 – February 13, 1882) was an African-American abolitionist, minister, educator, and orator. Having escaped with his family as a child from slavery in Maryland, he grew up in New York City. He was educated at the African Free School and other institutions and became an advocate of militant abolitionism. He became a minister and based his drive for abolitionism on religion.
Garnet was a prominent member of the movement that led beyond moral suasion toward more political action. Renowned for his skills as a public speaker, he urged black Americans to take action and claim their own destinies. For a period, he supported the emigration of American free blacks to Mexico, Liberia, or the West Indies, but the American Civil War ended that effort. In 1841 he married abolitionist Julia Williams and they had a family. Stella (Mary Jane) Weems, a runaway slave from Maryland, lived with the Garnets. She may have been adopted by the Garnets or worked as a governess for them. When Henry would preach against slavery he would bring up Stella. Stella would talk about her own experiences and her family still enslaved in Maryland. While on a trip preaching in England Garnet was hired by a Scottish church as a missionary. They moved to Jamaica in 1852. However, they were not there long when the family came down with yellow fever. Stella died and was buried there. Garnet and his family, though sickened, boarded a ship for America. After the war, the couple worked in Washington, DC.
On Sunday, February 12, 1865, he delivered a sermon in the U.S. House of Representatives, "the first colored man who has on any occasion spoken in our National Capital", on the occasion of Congress's passage on January 31 of the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery.
Jane Bolin was the first black woman graduate of Yale Law School and the first black female judge in the United States. Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, New York on April 11, 1908. From her earliest days in her father’s law office, Bolin knew she wanted to be an attorney. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1928 and earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1931.
Bolin clerked in her father’s law office until she passed the New York bar exam in 1932. She married fellow attorney Ralph E. Mizelle a year later, and together they opened up a practice in New York City. In 1937, Bolin was named Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, serving on the Domestic Relation Court. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed Jane Bolin Judge of the Domestic Relations Court in 1939, where she served for 40 years. During her tenure with two other judges she achieved two major changes: the assignment of probation officers to cases without regard for race or religion, and a requirement that publicly funded private child-care agencies accept children without regard to ethnic background.
Judge Jane Bolin reluctantly retired in 1979, after reaching mandatory retirement age, and went on to serve on the New York State University Board of Regents, where she reviewed disciplinary cases. Bolin was also a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, and the Child Welfare League. Jane Bolin died in New York City in 2007.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (/dəˈɡræs/; born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, and the first African American director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, in New York City. Tyson is also a researcher, a professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, and a general-interest science columnist. Author of books for nonspecialists on space and the universe.
Born and raised in New York City, Tyson became interested in astronomy at the age of nine after a visit to the Hayden Planetarium. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, where he was editor-in-chief of the Physical Science Journal, he completed a bachelor's degree in physics at Harvard University in 1980. After receiving a master's degree in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin in 1983, he earned his master's (1989) and doctorate (1991) in astrophysics at Columbia University. For the next three years, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. In 1994 he joined the Hayden Planetarium as a staff scientist and the Princeton faculty as a visiting research scientist and lecturer. In 1996, he became director of the planetarium and oversaw its $210-million reconstruction project, which was completed in 2000.
From 1995 to 2005, Tyson wrote monthly essays in the "Universe" column for Natural History magazine, some of which were published in his book Death by Black Hole (2007). During the same period, he wrote a monthly column in Star Date magazine, answering questions about the universe under the pen name "Merlin". Material from the column appeared in his books Merlin's Tour of the Universe (1998) and Just Visiting This Planet (1998). Tyson served on a 2001 government commission on the future of the U.S. aerospace industry, and on the 2004 Moon, Mars and Beyond commission.
He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in the same year.
In 2014, he hosted the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a successor to Carl Sagan's 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. As a science communicator, Tyson regularly appears on television, radio, and various other media outlets.
Thank you to Olympia Baylou for the content and research.
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