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Sherri J. Norris

chemical engineer and environmental engineering entrepreneur, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the second of four daughters of Ernest Buford Abron and Bernice Wise Abron, both educators. Abron was educated in Memphis public schools and was a member of the National Honor Society. Abron divorced and had three sons, Frederick, Ernest, and David; she is occasionally credited as Lilia Ann Abron-Robinson.

Abron stayed close to home when she attended LeMoyne College, a historically black college in Memphis, Tennessee. She considered medical school, but she was persuaded by her advisor, Dr. Beuler, to pursue a career in engineering instead. Her decision was a risky one. She did not know of any African Americans with engineering degrees who were actually working as engineers; instead, she once said in an interview, they were often working in post offices. In 1966 Abron received her BS in Chemistry from ...

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Pamela Blackmon

physicist, inventor, and educator, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the eldest of two sons of Arletta (Dixon) Alcorn and George Alcorn, an auto mechanic. Little is known of his early life. George Alcorn Jr. earned a BA in Physics in 1962 from Occidental College in Pasadena, California, where he excelled both academically and athletically, earning eight letters in football and baseball. His educational pursuits took him next to Howard University, where he received a master's degree in Nuclear Physics after only nine months of study. During the summers of 1962 and 1963 Alcorn worked as a research engineer at the space division of North American Rockwell, where he computed trajectories and orbital mechanics for missiles, including the Titan I and II, the Saturn IV, and the Nova.

From 1965 to 1967 Alcorn researched negative ion formation with funded support from the National Aeronautics and Space ...

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Ginny Crosthwait

professor and educationaladministrator, was born Rosie Elizabeth Allen in Americus, Georgia, to Ulysses Grant Allen and Velma Douglas Allen. After completing a BS in Biology at Albany State College in Georgia, Allen-Noble taught in three Georgia high schools: the Vienna High and Industrial School (1960–1961), West Point High School (1962–1963), and Carver High School in Columbus (1963–1964). She also served as chairperson of the biology department at Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia, from 1965 to 1970. Allen-Noble and Daniel Bernard Noble married in April 1964 and divorced in April 1968. They have one child, Antoinette Celine Noble-Webb.

While working on a master's degree in zoology at Atlanta University, Allen-Noble taught courses in biology, anatomy, and physiology at Spelman College, also in Atlanta (1965–1966). She completed the MS in 1967. From 1970 to 1976 she ...

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Frank A. Salamone

pioneer in discrediting the racist concepts that characterized early twentieth-century anthropology and other social sciences. Franz Boas was born in Minden, Germany. He received his PhD in physics from the University of Kiel in 1881, but he soon shifted interest into the field of human geography. In 1883 he conducted his first fieldwork, among the Inuit people of Baffin Island. In 1887 he began research among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. In 1899 he became the first professor of anthropology at Columbia University. When Boas began his anthropological work, anthropology was far from being a scientific field. It was infested with racist practitioners and amateurs. Boas held that too often people developed theories and then sought to gather information to prove their theories.

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H. Kenneth Bechtel

Edward Alexander Bouchet was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of William Francis Bouchet, a janitor, and Susan Cooley. Part of New Haven's black community that provided much of the city's unskilled and domestic labor, the Bouchets were members of the Temple Street Congregational Church, which was a stopping point for fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad, and both Edward and his father were active in church affairs. During the 1850s and 1860s New Haven had only three schools that black children could attend. Edward was enrolled in the Artisan Street Colored School, a small (only thirty seats), ungraded school with one teacher, Sarah Wilson, who played a crucial role in nurturing Bouchet's academic abilities and his desire to learn.

In 1868 Bouchet was accepted into Hopkins Grammar School a private institution that prepared young men for the classical and scientific departments at ...

Article

Aaron Myers

George Washington Carver was born in Diamond, Missouri, of a slave mother and probably a slave father. His interest in plants began at an early age. Growing up in postemancipation Missouri under the care of his mother's former owner, Carver collected from the surrounding forests and fields a variety of wild plants and flowers, which he planted in a garden. At the age of ten, he left home of his own volition to attend a black school in the nearby community of Neosho, where he did chores for a black family in exchange for food and a place to sleep. He maintained his interest in plants while putting himself through high school in Minneapolis, Kansas, and during his first and only year at Simpson College in Iowa. During this period, he made many sketches of plants and flowers. He made the study of plants his focus in 1891 ...

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Linda O. McMurry

scientist and educator, was born in Diamond (formerly Diamond Grove), Missouri, the son of Mary Carver, who was the slave of Moses and Susan Carver. His father was said to have been a slave on a neighboring farm who was accidentally killed before Carver's birth. Slave raiders allegedly kidnapped his mother and older sister while he was very young, and he and his older brother were raised by the Carvers on their small farm.

Barred from the local school because of his color, Carver was sent to nearby Neosho in the mid-1870s to enter school. Having been privately tutored earlier, he soon learned that his teacher knew little more than he did, so he caught a ride with a family moving to Fort Scott, Kansas. Until 1890 Carver roamed around Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa seeking an education while supporting himself doing laundry, cooking, and homesteading.

In 1890 Carver ...

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Carolyn Wedin

naturalist, agricultural chemurgist, and educator. With arguably the most recognized name among black people in American history, George Washington Carver's image is due in part to his exceptional character, mission, and achievements; in part to the story he wanted told; and in part to the innumerable books, articles, hagiographies, exhibits, trade fairs, memorials, plays, and musicals that have made him a symbol of rags-to-riches American enterprise. His image has been used for postage stamps, his name has been inscribed on bridges and a nuclear submarine, and he even has his own day (5 January), designated by the United States Congress in 1946.

Thanks in large part to Linda O. McMurry's 1981 book, George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol it is now possible to separate legend from fact and discover the remarkable child youth and man behind the peanut McMurry concludes that Carver ...

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Rosalyn Mitchell Patterson

professor of physiology, research physiologist, and medical college administrator, was born Eleanor Lutia Ison, the elder of two daughters born in Dublin, Georgia, to Luther Lincoln Ison, a high school teacher, and Rose Mae Oliver Ison, a teacher and accomplished musician. She attended high schools in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and Quitman, Georgia, before moving with her family to Monroe, Georgia, in the 1940s. Franklin graduated from the Carver High School in 1944 as valedictorian of her class.

At the age of fifteen Franklin entered Spelman College, with the intent to become a doctor. However, under the guidance and tutelage of Dr. Helen T. Albro, chair of the Biology Department, and Dr. Barnett F. Smith professor of biology and Wisconsin graduate she chose to pursue postgraduate study in endocrinology and physiology at the University of Wisconsin Franklin who had played piano and oboe in ...

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Diane Todd Bucci

journalist, author, editor, and professor, grew up in Yonkers, New York. Her parents were Curtis G. Giddings and Virginia Stokes Giddings, and both were college educated. Her father was a teacher and guidance counselor, and her mother was employed as a guidance counselor as well. The family's neighborhood was integrated, and Giddings was the first African American to attend her private elementary school, where she was the victim of racial attacks. Even now, Giddings regrets that she allowed herself to be silenced by these attacks. This, no doubt, is what compelled her to develop her voice as a writer. Giddings graduated from Howard University with a BA in English in 1969, and she worked as an editor for several years. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at Random House from 1969 to 1970 and then she became a copy editor at Random ...

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Jeffrey R. Yost

physicist, was born in Evergreen, Alabama. His father, Nelson Henry, and his mother, Mattye McDaniel Henry, were public school teachers who had graduated from Tuskegee Institute. Education was deeply valued in the Henry household, and Warren's parents brought him along to the classroom and encouraged him to study long hours during his adolescent and teenage years. He became interested in science early in life, though he did not have the opportunity to take any science courses until his senior year, when he transferred to Alabama State Normal, a school in Montgomery that concentrated on preparing future elementary school teachers. Following in his parents' footsteps, Henry worked his way through Tuskegee Institute as a night watchman and at a pharmacy, receiving a bachelor of science degree in 1931 majoring in mathematics English and French He also completed course work in chemistry and physics and worked summers on ...

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Audra J. Wolfe

physicist, was born in Woodville, Texas, the oldest son of John Alexander Hunter and Mary Evelyn Virginia (Edwards) Hunter His father a former school principal had moved to Texas from Louisiana soon after his marriage to Edwards who had been one of his students His mother was a teacher home demonstration agent and administrator The young family only stayed in Woodville for about a year before moving again first to La Porte and later to Jennings Island Texas where Hunter s father secured a ninety nine year lease on a property and began developing a ranch Hunter s father taught Hunter and his brother at home for the first five grades Once he was officially enrolled in classes at La Porte Texas Hunter had to cross two and a half miles of open water to reach the classroom He completed his secondary education at Prairie View State Normal ...

Article

Katrina D. Thompson

chemist, social scientist, and writer, was born in Garfield Heights, Washington, D.C., the son of William Harrison Lewis and Mary (Over) Lewis, of whom little else is known. In 1899 there were only four academic public schools in the segregated Washington, D.C., area, and only one of these was open to African Americans. Lewis attended the noted Dunbar High School, then known as M Street School. Because African Americans with advanced degrees had few other opportunities, during the 1920s three Dunbar teachers held the PhD degree, which was certainly unusual and perhaps unique in American public secondary education.

After attending Dunbar, Lewis graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1925 While at Brown Lewis became the first undergraduate initiate of the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the first African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Two years after graduating ...

Article

Connie L. McNeely

educator, public intellectual, and advocate, was born Cora Elmira Bagley to Horace Bagley and Clorann (Boswell) Bagley in Richmond Virginia about seventy miles from the family s home in Kenbridge Virginia At that time the small town of Kenbridge lacked decent medical facilities for the 46 percent of its population who were African American and traveling to Richmond was one of the only options for those needing medical care Elmira as her family called her was the youngest of twelve children with a multitude of nieces and nephews Her father a carpenter and contractor for small building projects and her mother who spent most of her years as a housewife but worked from time to time as a maid recognized in the precocious Elmira a proclivity for learning and an insatiable thirst for knowledge Her mother especially stressed the importance of reading and constantly provided her ...

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Debra A. Varnado

scientist and first black professor and chemistry department head at the U.S. Naval Academy, was one of three sons born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to Samuel Proctor Massie and Earlee Jacko Massie. His twin brother died soon after birth. Massie was nurtured in an extended family of educators, devout churchgoers, and community and civic leaders. He learned from his father, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) preacher and biology teacher, to stand up for himself and to minister to others' needs. His maternal grandmother, Josephine Jacko, a full-blooded Choctaw Indian, was born a slave. She instilled in him a sense of right and wrong and during long conversations helped him to recognize his gift for motivating and guiding others. His maternal grandfather, William B. Jacko also a schoolteacher and former superintendent of schools in Jefferson Steps Jefferson County served in the Arkansas State House of Representatives from ...

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Rosalyn Mitchell Patterson

chemistry professor and research chemist, was born in Mexia, Texas, to William Cecil McBay, a drugstore and barbershop owner, and Roberta (Ransom) McBay a seamstress McBay s father also taught himself anatomy became an embalmer s apprentice and later established a mortuary business with his older brother The parents example of hard work as a prerequisite for success set a high standard for McBay his brother and two sisters all four of whom attended college and earned postgraduate degrees Just prior to the 1920s as the nation recovered from the social and economic trauma of World War I Mexia Texas experienced a temporary economic boom that had a significant impact on McBay s early academic opportunities Oil was discovered in that middle Texas community primarily on farmland owned by African Americans Although McBay s immediate family did not own oil laden property McBay and his siblings benefited ...

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Kenneth R. Manning

educator and anatomist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Lewis Bradner McKinney, an employee of the U.S. Printing Office, and Blanche Elaine Hunt. McKinney attended Dunbar High School, the all-black grammar school on M Street in Washington. Dunbar's faculty, composed of highly motivated African American scholars, inspired generations of black youth to strive for academic excellence. McKinney himself recalled the atmosphere of “hopeful purpose and tremendous encouragement” that pervaded the school.

After graduating in 1917, McKinney enrolled at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Unlike many other white colleges at the time, Bates admitted African American students. Some of McKinney's Dunbar teachers were Bates graduates; Benjamin E. Mays later the president of Morehouse College in Atlanta was a year ahead of McKinney at Bates and other blacks were to follow Nevertheless McKinney found race to be an issue in at least one Bates program ...

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Kenneth R. Manning

McKinney, Roscoe Lewis (08 February 1900–30 September 1978), educator and anatomist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Lewis Bradner McKinney, an employee of the U.S. Printing Office, and Blanche Elaine Hunt. McKinney attended Dunbar High School, the all-black grammar school on M Street in Washington. Dunbar’s faculty, comprised of highly motivated African-American scholars, inspired generations of black youth to strive for academic excellence. McKinney himself recalled the atmosphere of “hopeful purpose and tremendous encouragement” that pervaded the school.

After graduating in 1917 McKinney enrolled at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Unlike many other white colleges at the time, Bates admitted African-American students. Some of McKinney’s Dunbar teachers were Bates graduates; Benjamin E. Mays later president of Morehouse College in Atlanta was a year ahead of McKinney and other blacks were to follow Nevertheless McKinney found race to be an issue in at least one ...

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Audra J. Wolfe

microbiologist, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the youngest of William E. and Margaret Moore's three children. Moore's father worked as an electrician for a local manufacturing firm; all five members of the Moore family were listed as “mulattos” in the 1910 census. Ruth Moore completed her entire education within Columbus, enrolling at Ohio State University for her BS (1926), MA (1927), and PhD (1933); the latter two degrees were awarded in the field of microbiology. She taught both hygiene and English at Tennessee State College, a historically black college, to support herself during graduate school (1927–1930).

Moore was not only the first African American woman to receive a PhD in Microbiology but she was also the first African American woman to receive a PhD in the Natural Sciences. Her dissertation focused on the bacteriology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis the organism that ...

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Kenneth R. Manning

Charles Henry Turner was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Thomas Turner, a church custodian, and Adeline Campbell, a nurse. Although neither parent had attended college, Thomas Turner would eventually earn a reputation as “a well-read man, a keen thinker, and a master of debate [who] surrounded himself with several hundred choice books.” Both parents, but especially the father, imparted a love of learning to young Charles. After graduating valedictorian of his high school class in Cincinnati, he proceeded to the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a B.S. in 1891 and an M.S. in 1892. His goal was to teach science and ultimately to head a technological or agricultural school for African Americans. As an undergraduate he came under the influence of Clarence Luther Herrick, a professor of biology at Cincinnati and pioneer in the field of psychobiology. When Herrick established the Journal ...