McBay, Shirley Mathis
- Olivia A. Scriven
mathematician, chemist, and education advocate, was born Shirley Mathis in the small and racially segregated town of Bainbridge, Georgia, during the Great Depression. Her parents' names and occupations are unknown. By all accounts, McBay was a child prodigy who was often teased because she liked to study, especially mathematics. But McBay's mother supported her daughter's interest in mathematics and encouraged her to continue to work hard if she wanted to be successful. McBay would follow that principle throughout her professional career.
McBay found her mother's own hard work a source of inspiration and looked up to her as a role model. McBay's other role models were her teachers. One teacher in particular, Hattie Mae Mann recognized early that McBay had potential and challenged her to excel Yet despite the support and involvement of her community McBay learned early about the separation between black and white which ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.