The History of the Firehouse Pole

During the 19th century, firefighters in the United States had two ways to make their way from their beds to their horse and buggy: “spiral staircase—installed to keep wayward horses from wandering upstairs—or through a tube chute.” That was until the ingenious David Kenyon installed a pole at Chicago’s all-Black firefighter Company 21 firehouse. Kenyon had seen a colleague use a “wooden pole normally used …

Online Exhibitions Exploring Race, Resistance and Resilience

Writing for Smithsonian Magazine, Jennifer Nalewicki has listed eight art exhibitions online currently that center around Black history, racism, protest and identity. Including Nina Chanel Abney’s gorgeous work (that she herself describes as “colorfully seductive and deceptively simple investigations of contemporary cultural issues”), Jacob Lawrence and Jordan Casteel, the list comprises talented painters—but there are also photo shows and exhibits of historical ephemera. From art …

NASA Renames Headquarters After Mary Jackson, Their First Black Woman Engineer

NASA has renamed its Washington, DC headquarters after the brilliant, late Mary Jackson—the first black woman engineer at the space agency. She worked at NASA, in various positions, from 1951 through 1985 and her building is located on the recently renamed Hidden Figures Way (named for the film that highlighted Jackson’s work, along with mathematicians Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan). While it’s been some 15 …