Owens, Joan Murrell
- Charles W. Jr. Carey
English teacher and marine biologist, was born Joan Murrell in Miami, Florida. Her father, William, was a dentist, and her mother, Leola, was a homemaker. Her family lived close to the ocean, and she spent much of her childhood exploring the shoreline. This experience instilled in her a desire to become a marine biologist, the subject she naively planned to major in at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Much to her surprise, she discovered that Fisk offered no such major; nor, for that matter, did any historically black college or university offer such a program since careers in marine biology were simply off-limits to African Americans at that time. Forced to surrender, at least temporarily, her childhood dream, she majored in fine art and received a BFA from Fisk in 1954 She spent the next two years studying commercial art and guidance counseling at the University ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.