Mae Jemison Quotes

Mae Jemison (1956 - )

First African American Shuttle Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Mae Jemison became the first African American woman astronaut in 1987. She was a physician and scientist who also spent time with the Peace Corp. After Mae Jemison left NASA's space program, she joined the staff of a medical school, and also runs her own technology firm.

Selected Mae Jemison Quotations

  1. Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.
  1. Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations...If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out ... You can hear other people's wisdom, but you've got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.
  2. Sometimes people have already decided who you are without your story shining through.
  3. There have been lots of other women who had the talent and ability before me. I think this can be seen as an affirmation that we're moving ahead. And I hope it means that I'm just the first in a long line. (interview, on being selected as an astronaut)
  4. More women should demand to be involved. It's our right. This is one area where we can get in on the ground floor and possibly help to direct where space exploration will go in the future
  5. The thing that I have done throughout my life is to do the best job that I can and to be me.
  6. People may see astronauts and because the majority are white males, they tend to think it has nothing to do with them. But it does.
  1. When I'm asked about the relevance to Black people of what I do, I take that as an affront. It presupposes that Black people have never been involved in exploring the heavens, but this is not so. Ancient African empires -- Mali, Songhai, Egypt -- had scientists, astronomers. The fact is that space and its resources belong to all of us, not to any one group.
  1. I want to make sure we use all our talent, not just 25 percent.
  2. Pay attention to the world around you and then find the places where you think you’re skilled. Follow your bliss -- and bliss doesn’t mean it’s easy!
  3. It is important for scientists to be aware of what our discoveries mean, socially and politically. It's a noble goal that science should be apolitical, acultural, and asocial, but it can't be, because it's done by people who are all those things.
  4. I don't know that having been in space gives me a better idea of whether life might exist on other planets. The reality is that we know that this universe, that our galaxy, has billions of stars. We know that stars have planets. So the likelihood that there is life somewhere else to me is just absolutely there.
  5. Science is very important to me, but I also like to stress that you have to be well-rounded. One's love for science doesn't get rid of all the other areas. I truly feel someone interested in science is interested in understanding what's going on in the world. That means you have to find out about social science, art, and politics.
  6. If you think about it, HG Wells wrote First Men in the Moon in 1901. Imagine how incredulous, fantastical that idea was in 1901. We didn’t have rockets, we didn’t have the materials, and we weren’t really flying. It was incredible. Less than 100 years later, we were on the moon.

  1. While we're orbiting Earth in the shuttle, the sky looks exactly as it looks here on Earth, except that the stars are brighter. So, we see the same planets, and they look the same way as they look here.

  2. In some ways I could have been seen as further ahead if I had taken an easier path, but every now and then I stop and think I probably wouldn’t have been happy.

​About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.