In Memoriam

Katherine Dunham (1909-2006)

Katherine Dunham, one of the nation’s most accomplished choreographers and teachers of dance, has died at the age of 96.

A native of Joliet, Illinois, Dunham earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree in anthropology at the University of Chicago. In 1931 she established her first school of dance in Chicago where she developed advanced methods for teaching dance, which are still used today all over the world. Her Katherine Dunham Troupe performed more than 100 works of original dance, all choreographed by Dunham. Later in her career, she joined the faculty at Southern Illinois University.

Throughout her career Dunham also was a strong advocate for civil and human rights. In 1982 at the age of 73, Dunham went on a 47-day hunger strike to protest the U.S. policy of deporting refugees from the political turmoil in Haiti.

While in her nineties, Dunham still taught dance at college seminars even though she was confined to a wheelchair.

Harrison Allen Jr. (1928-2006)

Harrison Allen Jr., a chemical engineer who was a major force behind efforts by NASA to recruit more students at black colleges and universities for careers in science and technology, died last month. He was 78 years old.

Raised by a single mother, Allen attended Cleveland’s East Technical High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from what is now Cleveland State University.

As a NASA research scientist, Allen was the inventor of the process used to ignite solid fuel propellants in the Apollo moon program and for the booster rockets on the space shuttle. As an administrator at NASA’s Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Allen spent a great deal of time visiting high schools and colleges in an effort to encourage more black students to consider careers in science. He also headed up NASA’s research grant program directed at historically black colleges and universities.