Recognizing Black American GEOINT Trailblazers
Celebrating Black History Month: Recognizing Black American GEOINT Trailblazers
In honor of Black History Month, NGA is recognizing Black American trailblazers who helped show the way. The individuals listed below made lasting contributions to the GEOINT tradecraft and national security. The following article is an addition to “Celebrating Black History Month: Meet Four Black American GEOINT Trailblazers.”
Paula Roberts is a retired civil servant, born in Manhattan, New York. She has been an active resident of Sussex County, since December 2011. She was inducted into the NGA Hall of Fame in 2022.
Roberts began her career as a cartographer and later became the chief human capital officer of the intelligence community. As chief of staff of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, NGA’s predecessor organization, she led the agency’s support to the Intelligence Community (IC) and Department of Defense (DOD) following the 9/11 attacks. As the chief human capital officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Roberts implemented changes to the IC’s personnel system that continues to shape a world-class workforce.
W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois is a well-known American sociologist, educator, historian, and civil rights activist. Lesser known to the public are his contributions in data visualization. Du Bois was a primary organizer of The Exhibit of American Negroes at the 1900 Paris Exposition. He included photographs, hand drawn charts, maps, and graphs that illustrated the development of Black Americans in the United States. These materials include a map of African slave trade were used by the US Bureau of Labor, U.S. Census, and other government sources.
Louise E. Jefferson
Louise E. Jefferson was an illustrator, photographer, calligrapher, and cartographer born in Washington D.C. Jefferson was taught drawing and calligraphy by her father, a calligrapher for the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Later in her career, Jefferson began working at the Friendship Press of the National Council of Churches where she created a series of pictorial maps celebrating the contributions of Africa, India, and China. She also created pictorial maps of the U.S. that highlighted contributions of Black Americans. Americans of Negro Lineage was one of her most notable maps including illustrations of Black American writers, scientist, inventors, and more drawn in detail in their respective geographies.
Victor H. Green
Victor Hugo Green was a postal carrier turned travel author of “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” popularly called the “Green Book”. Green’s guide, also known as the “bible of Black travel,” was published during the segregation era, identifying businesses that were considered “safe” and would accept Black American customers. It initially focused on the metropolitan New York and later expanded into the 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Africa.