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Robert Jr. Johnson

chemical engineer and professor, was one of two children born in Washington, D.C., to William Langston Hawkins and Maude Johnson Hawkins. Walter Hawkins's father was from Wisconsin and came to Washington with a law degree but spent most of his career as a civil servant in the U.S. Census Bureau. His mother taught general science in the city's public school system. Walter's inclination toward the sciences began with the simple experiments his mother conducted to entertain the children. “Linc,” as he preferred to be called, spent a good amount of his playtime building gadgets. From simple radio sets to more complex contraptions, he was fascinated with how things worked.

He attended Dunbar High School where many of the faculty members were highly skilled black PhDs Hawkins credited this intellectually challenging environment with providing the inspiration for his choice of a career in chemistry and engineering One highly influential ...