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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Black History Month

The Center of Math celebrates Black History Month by emphasizing African American scientists and mathematicians that excelled in their respective fields. In commemoration, we created an infographic that highlights important mathematical achievements and also features several individuals highly regarded in STEM. More information is located below the infographic, where we elaborated on biographies of selected mathematicians.

Click here for a closer look at the infographic!

Jesse Ernest Wilkins (1923-2011)          

Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr, a mathematics prodigy, was named the ‘negro genius’ by the media and quickly made huge advancements in the fields of math, mechanical engineering, nuclear science, and optics. He became the youngest student to enter the University of Chicago, at only 13. During World War II, Wilkins worked on the Manhattan Project and later authored several journals.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)
Banneker had close to no formal education and was largely self taught. He is most famously known for his contributions to a group led by Major Andrew Ellicott that surveyed the borders of the original District of Columbia. He referenced Thomas Jefferson on the topics of slavery and racial equality. Banneker’s understanding of astronomy inspired several contributions to series of almanacs.

David Blackwell (1919-2010)
Blackwell was the first African American to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and to secure a permanent position at the University of California at Berkeley in 1954. He is known as perhaps the greatest African American mathematician of his time.

Charles L. Reason (1818-1893)
Charles L. Reason greatest achievements were centered on improving the education system for African Americans. He founded the Society for the Promotion of Education among Colored Children. He then worked as a professor of mathematics, Greek, and Latin at New York Central College – becoming the first African American to teach at a predominately white university. Later, he went on to found the Quaker Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, and successfully led efforts to desegregate New York Schools.

Gloria Ford Gilmer (1956-Present)
Gilmer earned a B.S. in mathematics from both Morgan State University, and the University of Pennsylvania. In her lifetime she taught at six different HBCUs - historically black colleges and universities. Soon after receiving a Ph.D, she became the first Black female on the board of governors of the Mathematical Association of America (1980-82). She later served as a Research associate with the U.S. Department of Education and was the first women to give the National Association of Mathematician’s Cox-Talbot Address.

William Schieffelin Claytor (1908-1967)
Claytor earned his A.B. and M.A. from Howard university and later his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania - the third African American to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics. He was also the third African American to publish mathematics research. Soon after in 1937, he received a Rosenwald Fellowship and preceded to post-doctoral studies, working specifically with an experienced group of topologists.

Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890-1980)
Commemorated as the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D in mathematics, Haynes played a critical role in establishing an educational community for African Americans. After receiving a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, she went on to receive her doctorate. She spent over 47 years teaching mathematics in public schools, and was the first woman to chair the Washington D.C School Board.

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