The Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) would like to express its sadness and outrage at the recent acts of racial violence including the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others, and the systemic racial injustices that have long plagued our country. Black lives matter, and the MMA strongly condemns racism, hate and bigotry. Given the MMA’s longstanding goal of expanding inclusion and opportunity, we feel it is imperative that we state our support for our fellow black citizens and our condemnation of racial injustice.
Our organization was founded in 1902 to honor the legacy of America’s first woman astronomer, Maria Mitchell. Mitchell was a Quaker who worked for the equality of all people. She was a staunch supporter of the abolitionist cause, and refused to wear cotton clothing in the belief that doing so perpetuated slavery. She was the librarian at the Nantucket Atheneum when, in 1841, the Atheneum invited Frederick Douglass to deliver his historic speech. Today though, more than 200 years after her birth, our society, and the scientific community in particular, are still not open to all on an equal basis.
Our mission is to “create opportunities for all to develop a life-long passion for science…” and includes promoting diversity and equality in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Our work in this area has included our Maria Mitchell Women of Science Symposium, Discovery Playground, camp scholarship program and our efforts to recruit student interns from underrepresented groups. In the spirit of our founder, we will look internally to see what additional actions we must take as an organization to combat racism, better serve communities of color, support black scientists, create a more just STEM community, and ensure that we live up to the values Maria Mitchell demonstrated throughout her lifetime.