Martin Luther King Day
In honor of Dr. King’s work towards African American equality, here is some information about Elbert Frank Cox, the first African American to receive a Ph. D in mathematics.
Elbert Cox was born in Evansville, Indiana in 1895. His father had spent time at Indiana University completing graduate work, and Cox soon followed in his father’s footsteps attending Indiana University for his undergraduate degree. Despite his achievement in the field of math, Cox was subject to unfair treatment due to his race. His college transcript was imprinted with the word “colored” and in 1921 he was denied admission to Cornell due to a recommendation letter describing concerns about his race. However, after receiving the Erastus Brooks Fellowship in 1922, he enrolled in Cornell University. In 1925, he became the first African American to receive a Ph. D in mathematics and was recognized on a national and international level. Cox passed away in 1969, after a 40-year career of teaching and inspiring other young mathematicians. Elbert Cox is honored annually at the National Association of Mathematicians meeting through the Cox-Talbot Address.
Stay tuned to our social media pages for more in depth information about African American mathematicians as we celebrate the upcoming African American history month in February!