NEW ORLEANS – Source: STEM Global Action // Dr. Calvin Mackie, founder and CEO of STEM NOLA and STEM Global Action (SGA), said New Orleans East development projects managed separately by him and his brother, actor Anthony Mackie, will benefit community residents and help advance education in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
This week, Anthony Mackie, who plays the first black Captain America, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, purchased 20 acres on the Interstate 10 Service Road at Read Boulevard. His new production company, East Studios LLC and a studio, will be housed on the site. Just across the interstate along the service road, STEM NOLA is building a STEM Innovation Hub for Black Excellence. It will house laboratory space, classrooms, meeting spaces and 21st century technology to expose, educate, train and connect students to STEM skills and careers. Supported by donations from Ochsner Health and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the 40,000-square-foot space will be the new headquarters for SGA and STEM NOLA.
In addition, Dr. Mackie announced in October that it is creating an expansive STEM District in New Orleans East as part of the first phase of Bayou Phoenix LLC’s $100 million development project reviving an abandoned 227-acre site that once housed Six Flags and Jazzland. The plan includes the STEM education center, as well as a hotel, water park, amusement park, sports complex and a warehouse and distribution center.
“Anthony and I have always worked to give back to our community,” Dr. Mackie said. “This is no different. We will be teaching students how STEM will have major roles in the operation of the various components of our development project. Our city had been through so much over the years now is the time to help our neighborhoods and our people flourish again.”
Dr. Mackie believes the development activity will trigger an economic revival for the area, citing the booming “Research Triangle” in Raleigh–Cary and Durham–Chapel Hill North Carolina. “We want to emulate their success,” he said. “We will be training students in STEM fields who find jobs in the businesses that are being created. These developments will be an economic engine for this area.”
Now, Anthony Mackie’s project, which is six miles from the Bayou Phoenix site, can also inject economic energy in the area. His studio may include development, marketing and production, as well as other aspects of the entertainment industry, delivering a boost to the state’s film and television industry.
Moreover, Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson on the Disney+ miniseries The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and becoming Marvel’s first Black Captain America, showcases the value of STEM. In the show, Wilson is never the strongest in battle. He relies on STEM to win. From his mechanical wings infused with Vibranium from Wakanda that enable him to fly, to his “Redwing” combat and reconnaissance drones, Wilson wins with a mastery of science and physics, of calculations and probabilities, and most importantly, by turning smarts and technology into paths for success.
“Kudos to Marvel for elevating a Black man to succeeding with his intellect, rather than stereotypical physical attributes like speed, agility or brute force,” said Dr. Mackie.
“Think of STEM as Captain America’s new indestructible, vibranium shield,” he said. “It can help tackle life’s toughest foes, like racism, poverty and discrimination. They are no match for it. STEM is the doorway to the future, the superhero providing careers, family security and neighborhood stability. The best part is students don’t have to live in a cinematic verse to experience it, just study hard, learn STEM and it can create pathways forward.”