My dad, Timothy L. Pernell Sr., believed in science. But as a Black man coming of age in the Jim Crow South, the path to his career as a research scientist was convoluted, taking twists and turns because of the barriers too often cemented in place by racism.After a two-week bout with the illness, his heroic story ended. It was unlike what we’d imagined his ending would be — but nonetheless his was a life sealed in triumph.As a student he excelled, but college proved too high a hurdle for his family in 1959 Richmond, Virginia, so he dreamt of becoming a Navy fighter pilot instead. After taking a qualifying exam at the recruiting station, he was led to believe he failed. Thinking his dreams were dashed, he left Virginia for New York to find opportunity elsewhere — following a migration route that many Blacks traveled. After his departure, when it was already too late to change course, he learned he had one of the highest scores on the test when a different recruiter called his Richmond home and informed his father of his stellar performance.My dad would tell this story on occasion, but I never imagined as I sat

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