Chosen by Teen Vogue in December as one of its “21 under 21 2017,” Taylor Richardson described herself as a “STEMinist,” a feminist who loves science, technology, engineering and math.
Taylor, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at The Bolles School’s Bartram Campus, is particularly taken with the idea of space travel.
Her goal, she said, is to “get to Mars.” She traces that ambition to her reading of “Find Where the Wind Goes,” a memoir written for children by Mae C. Jemison, who became the first African-American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor on Sept. 12, 1992.
Equally inspiring to her was the movie “Hidden Figures,” about black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. She saw that movie for the first time on Dec. 15, 2016, having been invited to a screening at the White House.
During that screening she got to meet Yvonne Cagle, who, like Jemison, is an African-American woman and an astronaut. After seeing the movie, Taylor decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $1,500 so 100 local girls could see the movie.
That campaign went viral. Locally she raised $20,000, enabling 1,000 to see the movie. Nationally there were 70 other campaigns in 28 states, which raised more than $120,000. Now there is another movie coming, which Taylor hopes to share with others. “A Wrinkle in Time” is a movie adapted from the children’s book written by Madeleine L’Engle.
The main character is a young girl named Meg. When her scientist father disappears, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to various planets in order to find him. The movie, which comes out March 9, has got space travel, which Taylor likes. It’s directed by Ava DuVernay, who previously directed “Selma.” And Meg is being played by Storm Reid, a young African-American actress.
“I like it because it has a black female protagonist,” Taylor said.
Taylor stays busy. She runs track for Bolles, has competed in triathlons and has been to a number of camps.
At a space camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Selma, Ala., she experienced zero gravity and managed to do it without getting sick. She made a visit to a commencement ceremony at Clark Atlanta University. That gave her the chance to meet the commencement speaker, her idol Mae Jemison.
As Taylor’s profile has risen she’s been getting an increasing number of invitations to speak in public. Next weekend she’ll in Wisconsin for a panel discussion.
“I like her being proud of being a black girl,” said her mom, Toni Richardson. “It’s a different world for her than it was for me.”
Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413