In 2010, I did an interview with former UA Professor Jarita Holbrook about her work in astronomy and anthropology, but specifically her documentary, Hubble's Diverse Universe, about nine African-American and Hispanic astrophysicists and their work. "The first 15 minutes ... you see a normal science show, but in different colors—all (the scientists are) Hispanic and African-Americans, male and female. The next section is on diversity and what it's like in their fields. Then they talk about mentoring and outreach, and emphasize the importance of mentoring in astronomy," Holbrook told us.
Holbrook is back to work on a new documentary with similar themes — Black Sun. Go to her Kickstarter campaign page for more information and to consider supporting her work.
About Black Sun
“Black Sun,” a feature-length documentary, chronicles two celestial events: the May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse and the November 14, 2012 total solar eclipse. The movie follows two astrophysicists who study the solar atmosphere during eclipses:
Dr. Alphonse Sterling of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center stationed in Japan (a man who had early success in the US, but left his home country to further cultivate his wide-ranging interests).
Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi of the Physics & Space Sciences department at the Florida Institute of Technology (a scientist who beat all of the odds: poverty, homelessness, single-parent, poor early education, etc., to get to where he is today).
“Black Sun” explores how and why the two men became scientists, their opposing paths and personalities, their struggles as minorities in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field, and their noteworthy accomplishments today. We begin in Tokyo following Dr. Sterling as he observes the annular eclipse in preparation for when he travels to Cairns, Australia, to observe the total solar eclipse in November.
Why Black Sun is Important
America’s youth are falling farther and farther behind other countries in STEM education. In particular, minority youth as a group seem to be exponentially slipping away. Yet, studies indicate that well-placed resources, that include dedicated teachers, research experiences, mentoring, having the opportunity to meet and learn about the lives of scientists/mentors, can turn these dismal numbers around.
“Black Sun” is for a general audience, but it is being created for our future - America’s children - especially those whose scientific talents have traditionally not been nurtured - minority children. The two scientists featured in the film will discuss their childhoods, what attracted them to science, their challenges and their successes. It is this very personal unveiling that will engage audiences; they will see the scientists as interesting and “real” persons, in essence, audiences will see themselves. Young people, especially, will be able to visualize a life filled with important research and discovery, because the scientists are people that they know. The scientists exhibit different styles and personalities, dispelling the belief that only one type of person can become a successful scientist. By following Drs. Oluseyi and Sterling as they research solar phenomena from the two eclipses, it is the filmmakers’ goal to inspire young people to such an extent that they will seek out their own incredible scientific journeys.