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Come along as we celebrate Black men and women who have contributed to academia. This month we are going to honor these brilliant academics in history who you may not know about. Let's learn about them together. #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackHistoryMonth2020 #BlackLivesMatter Enjoy!
Day 1: Edward Bouchet (Sept.15, 1852- Oct.28, 1918) graduated from Yale with a PhD in Physics in 1876. He was among the first of 20 Americans to be awarded a PhD in Physics (the 6th of any race at Yale). Due to racial discrimination, Bouchet was unable to #BlackHistoryMonth 1/2
secure a university position so he moved to Philly & became a teacher at the Institute for Colored Youth (now called Cheyney University of Pennsylvania). Read more about Edward Bouchet here: 2/2 #BlackHistoryMonth2020
Day 2: Ernest Everett Just (Aug.14, 1883-Oct.27, 1941) was a pioneering biologist, academic & science writer. Now he is recognized as one of the greatest biologists of the 20th century, altho racial discrimination prevented him from developing his full #BlackHistoryMonth 1/7
potential. Education was better up north, so his Mom ensured he received the best possible. He won honors at Dartmouth College in zoology & distinguished himself in botany, history &sociology. Just was awarded a PhD from the UofChicago. Upon graduation #BlackHistoryMonth 2/7
E.E. Just faced the same racial prejudice as all Black grads of his time & it was nearly impossible to become faculty at wyte colleges/unis. He took a position at Howard & initially taught English Lit & rhetoric. English Lit was out of his field of expertise. He eventually 3/7
became Head of the Zoology Dept. He was ambitious, authoring 2 books &publishing over 70 paper. You read that right, 70 papers! An ambitious scholar, Just was awarded the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in Biology which allowed him to go to Europe when racism hindered research 4/7
opportunities in the US. His work in Germany in the 1930s was stopped when Nazis took control. He persisted, moving to France to continue research. During the outbreak of WWII he wouldn’t leave so he cud complete his work. He was imprisoned in a POW camp before being rescued 5/7
by his 2nd wife a German citizen. Shortly after returning to the US, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He worked at Howard until his death. Just’s legacy as a biologist has been recognized in more recent years. His findings have us a better understanding of how the 6/7
cell performs its basic functions. His life was cut short but his work on cellular biology, his experiments &findings influenced modern evolutionary &developmental biology. Read abt E.E. Just here: & here: 7/7 #BlackHistoryMonth
Day 3: Marie Maynard Daly (Apr.16, 1921-Oct. 28, 2003) was the 1st Black American woman in the US to earn a PhD in Chemistry. Her Dad was a West Indies immigrant &her Mom was Af/Am. Her love of science grew from her father’s time at Cornell. Due to lack of 1/6 #BlackHistoryMonth
money he couldn’t finish studies but Marie continued in her Dad's footsteps & became a biochemist. In her later life she created a scholarship in her Dad’s honor. Daly graduated from Columbia & worked as a science instructor at Howard University. An incredible researcher she 2/6
was awarded a grant to support her postdoc research. When you think of DNA who do you think of? Watson and Crick? Did you know that when they received the Nobel prize in 1962, Watson cited one of Daly’s papers as contributing to his work? Although she faced racial & gender 3/6
discrimination, she persisted with courage & strength. Daly is most well known for advancing research on histones (which are important in gene expression). Her work was fundamental to understanding DNA. She & her colleagues also did some of the earliest work on dietary links 4/6
to cardiac & circulatory systems. She established connections between hypertension & atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). She also ID’d the links between cholesterol & clogged arteries. Her pioneering research paved the way to understanding heart attacks. In this way, she 5/6
has contributed to saving millions of lives – even ppl we know & love! She also investigated effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs in connection with hypertension. She has helped advance medicine in immeasurable ways. Read more about M.M. Daly here: 6/6
Day 4: Elbert Frank Cox (Dec. 5, 1895-Nov.28, 1969) was a Mathematician, & the first African American to be awarded a PhD in Mathematics in 1925 from Cornell University. As a child, he was also a gifted violinist, which may have been linked to his talent for math & physics. 1/8
In college, Cox also took courses in German, German, English, Latin, history, hygiene, chemistry, education, philosophy &physics. With this he ensured a well-rounded education but it also revealed a general love of learning. When Cox received his bachelor’s in 1917 from 2/8
Indiana Uni, he & his 3 Black classmates received their degrees with ‘COLORED’ printed across the transcript. This was to mark their ‘otherness’ & limit opportunities for success. Upon graduation with his 1st degree, E.F. Cox enlisted in the army, he was discharged & pursued 3/8
his PhD at Cornell. Cox started his teaching career at the then all-black poorly funded West Virginia State College. He was rare, having a PhD at that college when most instructors didn’t, so he stood out. Within 5 years he was teaching at Howard. Despite his credentials, 4/8
Cox hadn’t published his PhD dissertation. His former supervisor pursued recognition for him by helping him get it published. It proved harder than expected. His advisor made requests as far away as England &Germany who refused to consider Cox’s thesis, but it was finally 5/8
recognized by Tohoku Imperial Uni in Japan. For fellow BIPOC scholars, our struggles to publish & facing gate-keeping is not new. Learn more about E.F. Cox here: Cox was a gifted &popular prof. His students performed better than those of other profs & 6/8
he ended up directing more Mastered degree students than any other prof at Howard. He was promoted several times & eventually became Head of the Dept of Mathematics until he retired. Cox didn’t live to see the scholarship &PhD program in Math established in his honor at Howard 7/
but without him neither would have been made possible.
His legacy is expanding the work of Niels Norlund on Euler polynomials. He also expanded the Boole summation formula. If you want to learn more about E.F. Cox’s work go here: 8/8
Day 5: Carter Godwin Woodson (Dec.19, 1875 – Apr. 3, 1950) was an American historian, author & journalist. He was one of the 1st scholars to study African-American history. As founder of The Journal of Negro History, he is known as the “father of Black history.” We have him 1/11
to thank for starting the precursor to Black History Month when he launched “Negro History Week.” The son of former slaves, Woodson was unable to attend primary school regularly. He was needed on the farm, but he self-taught & mastered most of his school subjects. He initially 2/
put off pursuing further education to work in coal mines. He eventually got his education, receiving a BA at Berea College, which took him to the Philippines as a school supervisor. Seeing how Filipino children were taught w/ a curriculum created by wyte Americans had a 3/
profound effect on Woodson. He returned to the US & attained an MA from Uof Chicago, aiming to research & teach abt Black history. He was the 2nd African American to receive a PhD from Harvard (after WEB Du Bois – who we’ll learn abt later). Woodson spent most of his academic 4/
career at Howard, eventually becoming Dean of the College of Arts&Sciences. Woodson was a man before his time. Unlike most male scholars during his era, he advocated for & mentored Black women as equal co-workers & leaders in his movement to educate ppl abt Black History. Read 5/
more abt him here: Woodson realized there was a need to research the neglected past of African Americans, as their history was being ignored & misrepresented by scholars. He & several fellows founded the Assoc for the Study of Negro Life & History & he 6/
began to publish his scholarly journal. Woodson was an advocate of integrated social &professional contact between Black & Wyte ppl to reduce racism. He promoted the first Negro History Week in 1926, the forerunner to #BlackHistoryMonth. A passionate researcher, he once said: 7/
Af/Am contributions “were overlooked, ignored, & even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks & teachers who use then.” Sadly, this is still true today.
Woodson held some unpopular views among his contemporaries w/ his insistence on categorizing history relating to 8/11
ethnicity & race. Some others thot it best not to teach Af/Am history as separate from general US history. It’s still a difficult subject to parse as Af/Am history IS part of US history, yet it never receives the attn it deserves in curricula b/c of general white-washing. 9/11
Woodson’s legacy is that we all have this month to honor, celebrate &learn abt Af/Am history. His research inspired countless other scholars. He developed a number of publications &Bulletins for teachers & contributed to higher ed with his books and articles, notably a survey 10/
of free slaveowners in the US in 1830. He had begun a 6-vol Encyclopedia Africana, but passed away before completion. One of his books explores how Black ppl during Woodson’s time were indoctrinated rather than taught in US schools: 11/11
Day 6: Inez Beverly Prosser (Dec.30, 1897-Sept.1934) was a teacher, school administrator & the 1st African-American female to receive a PhD in educational psychology. Prosser was born to Samuel Andrew & Veola Hamilton Beverley. She was 2nd of 11 kids &vher parents wanted the 1/8
best education they could find for their kids. They moved frequently to ensure their kids were being educated. As the oldest daughter, Prosser started a college fund for her younger siblings. Of 11, all graduated from highschool & 6 received college degrees. Prosser’s first 2/8
degree was in teaching, so after graduation she taught at Yoakum’s segregated schools. A gifted & passionate teacher, Prosser received many awards & decided to pursue graduate studies. She received a MA in educational psychology from the Uni of Colorado. She became a faculty 3/8
member at Tillotson College where she was fully dedicated to her Black students. Her gift of teaching caught the attn of funding bodies & she was awarded enough $$ to pursue her PhD. She earned her PhD from the U of Cincinnati. Prosser’s dissertation argued that racial 4/8
injustices & feelings of isolation had damaging effects on the psyche of Black children. From her observation, having students & teachers to identify w/ was important. This is something we still struggle to understand in academia. Representation matters. It speaks to students 5/8
of color to have teachers &classmates that they can identify/connect w/ & understand racism. Prosser’s findings were important in understanding child psychology in relation to racism. Her voice was instrumental in Black Psychology which was & remains absent from narratives of 6/8
mainstream US psychology. Her dissertation was used in the Brown vs Board of Ed US Supreme Court ruling of 1954, which argued that segregated schools were unequal. Her research poses a powerful argument regarding the effects of racial inequality on the mental health of Black 7/8
children in predominantly wyte schools. We will never know how much further Prosser would have taken her research & what conclusions she may have come to b/c a car accident cut her life short not long after she received her PhD. Read abt her here: 8/8
Day 7: Saint Elmo Brady (Dec.22, 1884-Dec.25, 1966) was the first African American to earn a PhD in Chemistry in the US. He was the eldest of 3, born to Thomas Alexander Brady & Celester (Parker) Brady. His interest in chemistry was sparked by his chemistry teacher, Thomas 1/7
W. Talley, who encouraged him to study further. He received his BA from Fisk Uni & immediately began teaching. He was mentored by Booker T Washington & George Washington Carver (who are on our list). We can appreciate how important it is for students of color to have mentors 2/7
like them to look up to. Even before getting his PhD, Brady was well published. Brady was offered a scholarship to the U of Illinois to pursue grad studies & ambitiously earned his PhD in only 2 years in 1916. He later told his students that his class in grad school started 3/7
out w/ “20 wytes & 1 other & ended in 1916 with 6 wytes & 1 other.” Brady became the 1st African American admitted to the university’s chemical honor society. After earning his PhD, Brady taught at Tuskegee Uni for 4 yrs & accepted a position at Howard, eventually becoming 4/7
Chair of Howard’s Chemistry Dept. Brady continued to research & publish, while also being a formidable teacher. His life & career exemplified what it was like to serve others. Brady was well aware that challenges were always present, even tho he was greatly accomplished. 5/7
His granddaughter is quoted as saying that finding housing was among one of the many challenges he faced – he ended up in a segregated community. Brady not only did groundbreaking research, he helped coordinate construction of the first modern chemistry building at an HBCU. 6/7
After his long career & pioneering research, another Chemist, Samuel Massie, said this of Brady: “Brady not only built buildings and departments, he built men and women.” Read more abt Brady here:
7/7 #BlackHistoryMonth
James McCune Smith (Apr.18, 1813-Nov. 17, 1865) was the 1st accredited African-American physician-scholar, apothecary & Statistician in the US. He was also an abolitionist & author. Born into slavery in NYC to Lavina (who attained freedom later in her life), his father was 1/15
either Samuel Smith, Lavinia’s master or a free Black man. James was raised by his Mom. He was set free at 14-yrs-old by the Emancipation Act of NY. He attended the African Free School & was described as ‘exceptionally bright.’ Upon graduation, he applied to Columbia & the 2/15
Geneva Medical College in NY but was denied due to racial discrimination. His mentor, a Black priest named Rev. Peter Williams Jr. encouraged Smith to study medicine in Glasgow. Abolitionist benefactors provided $ for his trip & education. Upon arrival & walking along the 3/15
waterfront in Liverpool Smith's journal reads: “I am free.” He studied medicine, graduating top of his class, receiving a bachelor’s, Masters & medical degree in a few yrs. Upon graduation from the Uni of Glasgow, Scotland, he did an internship 4/15
in Paris &when he returned to NYC, he was greeted as a hero by the Black community. He had a medical practice for 25 years & also found time to publish in medical journals. Still, due to racism, he was never admitted to the American Medical Association or local ones. He startd 5/
a school in the evenings to teach children & established the 1st black-owned & operated pharmacy in the US–the back room of the pharmacy was used to discuss abolitionist work. In 1846 Smith was appointed doc of the Colored Orphan Asylum. He regularly vaccinated to keep the
kids safe from preventable diseases when parents were unable to pay for services. He was also a fierce proponent of education for Black children. Irish rioters attacked Black ppl all over NYC in July 1863 during the draft riots & burned down the orphanage. Thankfully all the 7/15
children were saved. Smith’s community (and others) were ravaged & he no longer felt safe so he moved his family to Brooklyn.

While in Scotland, Smith had joined the Emancipation Society & he worked effectively w/ Black & Wyte abolitionists on both 8/15
sides of the Atlantic. He wrote prolifically & published his lectures which caught the attention of the abolitionist movement in the US. Eventually, he worked w/ Frederick Douglass to establish the National Council of Colored People. Douglass said that Smith was "the single
most important influence on his life” because of his rational approach. He was able to temper the more radical people in the movement. Smith also believed that African Americans had the right to remain in the US & not be sent to the colony of Liberia. As a medical expert, his 10/
training gave him insights into phrenology (a so-called scientific practice that draws racist conclusions abt Black ppl by twisting & corrupting data/evidence). He drew from his expertise to write about & discredit phrenology, & he also rejected homeopathy. Truly a man before 11/
his time! He also continued to author passionate pieces to further the abolitionist movement, threw his energy into labor movements & debated racists. In Glasgow he was also trained in the emerging science of statistics, & would go on to write numerous academic articles 12/15
refuting claims by slave owners using stats. He became a founding member of the NY Statistics Institute. Among his many achievements, Smith pioneered the use of stats to challenge notions of Black racial inferiority.
He was appointed professor of
anthropology at Wilberforce College, but he was too ill to take the position. Smith straddled both worlds during his life, &served as a mediator for both Black & Wyte ppl in the abolitionist movement. He married a mixed woman &his children, who were wyte passing, integrated 14/15
into wyte society to avoid racism. The struggle is real, who can blame them? He died of heart failure at the young age of 52 but his life’s work & incredible achievements/legacy are of a man who lived 152+ years. Read more abt his legacy here: 15/15
Day 9: Roger Arliner Young (1889-Nov.9, 1964) was a zoologist & (marine) biologist. She was the 1st African American woman to obtain a PhD in Zoology. Born into poverty, Young & her family spent much of their time caring for her disabled Mom. Young persevered & at 27-yrs-old 1/10
enrolled at Howard Uni to study music. Her quote in the yearbook is “Not failure, low aim is a crime,” so she knew that failures were not the end of the world. Head of Zoology, Dr. Ernest E. Just saw promise in Young, & after she graduated with a BA he tried to help her gain 2/10
$ for grad school. Funding failed, so Young went to the UofChicago for her MA. She was the 1st Black woman to successfully publish in her field. Her 1st article was published in 1 of the most prestigious journals in her field ‘Science.’ As an ambitious student, she was asked 3/10
to join the scientific research society, an unusual honor for a MA student. Young became an Assistant Prof at Howard & assisted Dr Just in his research, altho she does not appear as coauthor in resulting publications. She worked as interim HoD when Just was away in Europe. 4/10
Young’s path is 1 of struggles & perseverance. She began her PhD at the Uof Chicago in 1929, but the following year she failed to pass her qualifying exams. That would have been devastating. Young disappeared from the scientific community for a short time, but returned to 5/10
Howard to teach & work w/ Dr. Just during the Summer & for the next few yrs. Rumors circulated there may be a romance between the 2 & some drama ensued. Young & Just had a confrontation, she began to miss classes & she was fired in 1936. This setback became her inspiration to 6/
push ahead so she went to the Uof Pennsylvania & got a PhD in1940. She took on professorial positions in North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi & Louisiana throughout her career. Her contributions to zoology & marine biology were immense. She studied particular effects on marine 7/10
life, as well as hydration/dehydration of living cells.
Life for Young was one of various struggles--something that speaks to working class academics today. She had lived with occupation-related eye damage, & had financial struggles when she became the sole carer for her Mom. 8/
In the late 1950s stress from life’s pressures became too much & Young was hospitalized w/ mental health struggles. She was discharged in 1962. Throughout Young’s unconventional career, she persevered & continued to research/publish, & was also a caring mentor. Young was 9/10
accomplishing greatness during a time when there weren't equal rights for Black ppl or women. She received many honors posthumously for her great achievements in science, despite enduring many struggles throughout her life. Read more abt her here: 10/10
Day 10: William Alexander Brown (?-1884) was also known as William Henry Brown. He was a playwright & theatrical producer, who is considered the 1st known Black playwright in the US. Brown was born in the West Indies & worked as a ship’s steward. After retiring from working 1/9
at sea, he settled in lower Manhattan in a community of free Blacks. “Little Africa” was a mixture of free and enslaved Black ppl inhabiting an area around the now disappeared Minetta Creek. Originally Brown’s company would meet & perform in his back yard but complaints 2/9
from wyte neighbors & police forced Brown to move. In 1816, Brown opened up a theatre called the ‘African Grove Theatre”. The African Grove featured music, poetry, theatrical performances, outdoor entertainment & food & drink. Brown’s theatre was constantly harassed by 3/
“wyte hoodlums.” Threatened by the rising success of the African Grove, wyte ppl rioted & attacked the theatre constantly. The African Theatre was forced to close in 1821. Read more abt the African Grove here:
Determined to continue, Brown reorganized 4/
& started again. He opened the African Theatre (or African Company) in 1822. The theatre presented classical plays, originals, ballet, music & opera. Brown’s African Co. organized & managed productions of Shakespearean plays, and also presented original plays. The first Black 5/
man on record to play the leading role of Othello, James Hewlett, performed at the African Theatre. An original play by Brown called “The Drama of King Shotaway” was also featured. It was based on the life of Black Carib leader Joseph Chatoyer (Shotaway) & his battle against 6/
the British. This play may have been inspired by Brown’s time at sea during the time of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Rival Park Theatre’s management complained to the city sheriff about the African Theatre again, even though Park was for wyte audiences. African Theatre's 7/
successful run ended for good when police shut it down due to complaints. Brown’s love of theatre makes him a pioneer of the Humanities, particularly English literature & Performance Arts. As the first Black playwright in the US he paved the way for 8/
other Black authors, dramatists, & performers while also inspiring generations of Early Modernists &literary scholars. Read more abt the Theatre &famous performers like Ira Aldridge who worked in the African Company here: & here 9/9
Day 11: Richard Theodore Greener (Jan.30,1844-May 2, 1922) was a Law professor, writer, activist & statesman. He as the 1st African American to graduate from Harvard College & the 1st Black man to be elected a member of the American Philological Association (a Classicist org 1/
in North America). His admission into Harvard was “an experiment” by the admin & paved the way for more Black students. As a child, Greener moved to Boston from Philly with his Mother. He had to quit school in his teens to earn 4 for his family but 1 of his employers 2/
saw potential in him & helped him enroll at Oberlin. Greener transferred to Harvard & earned his BA. An article written abt him at the time announced he was a “young man who has succeeded in living down the prejudices against his race & color, & attaining by industry, ability 3/
& good character a position of which he may well feel proud…He is the first colored youth who has ever passed through that college.” After graduation, he was principal of the male dept of the Institute of Colored Youth. He eventually accepted a professorship of mental & 4/
moral philosophy at the Uof South Carolina, where he was the uni’s 1st African-American faculty member. He also taught in the dept of Latin & Greek & taught classes on International Law. He served as a librarian helping to catalog the library’s holdings which were a mess after 5/
the Civil War. He wrote a monograph on the rare books at the library. He was a staff member at The New National Era, edited at the time by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. While teaching, he graduated from law school & was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of South 6/
Carolina. He was also admitted to the Bar of DC & the same yr (1877), became Professor of Law at Howard Law School. He served for 3 years until he became a law clerk of the 1st comptroller of the US Treasury. He worked his way into political& public service working on many 7/
high profile legal cases in the late 1800s. President William McKinley made Greener a General Consul in Bombay, India & eventually Commercial Agent in Vladivostok, Russia. 1 of his daughters was the famous librarian Belle da Costa Greene (her siblings & Mother changed their 8/
surname to disassociate from Greener after he left his family & started a new 1 w/ a Japanese woman. Read about Belle da Costa Greene here: and here: After returning to the US, Greener retired &settled in Chicago near relatives. 9/
In 2009, a demolition crew member discovered some of Greener’s writings in an attic of an abandoned home.
Greener accomplished many firsts for African-Americans & received many awards in his lifetime. He was an accomplished prof & writer, & worked hard for the people. 10/
Greener also received a couple of Honorary PhDs for his service. Many scholarships have been established in his name as well as a statue of him erected at the U of South Carolina. 11/11
Day 12: Marguerite Thomas Williams (Dec.24,1895- Aug. 17, 1991) was the first African American Geologist & Geographer. She was the first of any gender to earn a PhD in Geology in the US. Thomas was born to Henry C & Clara E. Thomas. She graduated from the Normal School for 1/7 Marguerite Thomas Williams
Colored Girls & received a scholarship for Howard. She earned a BA & received mentorship from biologist Dr. Ernest E. Just. She was passed over for a position at Howard (a position that went to Day 9’s Roger Arliner Young), so Thomas pursued a MA at Columbia. There she 2/7
met & married Dr. Otis James Williams, & took his surname. She worked her way to become Chair of the division of Geography at the Miner Teachers College, while working on her PhD at Catholic University of America, where she later published her dissertation.
Thomas-Williams’ 3/7 Marguerite Thomas Williams teaching a class of students
research led to understanding erosion in particular rivers. Her conclusions are important because they highlight how human activities like deforestation, agriculture & urbanization speed up erosion in nature. This is something we are struggling to contend with as we face the 4/7
climate crisis. Thomas-Williams became a full professor & dedicated most of her career to teaching geology & the social sciences rather than research. Although her dissertation is important for us in understanding how erosion & human activities work, she decided to focus on 5/7
teaching to inspire future generations above name recognition in her field. She made a name for herself anyway, by persevering & overcoming obstacles & prejudice when it was not just difficult for Black people, but for Black women, in particular, to achieve academic success. 6/7 Marguerite Thomas Williams
In the end, she is still remembered for being a pioneer in Geology, in Black academic history & and for being a generous & dedicated professor. You can read more about her here: 7/7
Day 13: John Wesley Gilbert (July 6, 1863-Nov.19, 1923) was an African American archaeologist & Classicist. Gilbert was the 1st graduate of the historically Black Paine College, the 1st Black prof at the college, & he went on to be the 1st Black man to receive an advanced 1/10 John Wesley Gilbert
degree from Brown Uni. Gilbert was born to slaves but was able to receive partial education in early life. After finishing public school, he enrolled in the Augusta Institute (a predecessor of Morehouse College), & then by 21-yrs-old, he enrolled at Paine Institute which 2/10
was established as an “interracial” endeavor. Gilbert, a gifted student, received financial assistance to transfer to Brown. He was among the first 10 Black students to attend the school. While at Brown, Gilbert won a scholarship to attend the American School of Classical 3/10 John Wesley Gilbert
Studies in Greece. He was the 1st & only African American to attend that school until 1901. Gilbert excelled at Greek & conducted many archaeological excavations. Gilbert earned his MA for his work in Greece, but his thesis is now lost. Gilbert was gifted w/ languages, & upon 4/
his return to the US he taught Greek, French, German, Latin & Hebrew at Paine College. As the 1st Black faculty member he was ostracized &his position caused an uproar by wyte faculty members. His high standards were exacting & he expected a lot from his students, but this 5/10
ensured excellence. Gilbert’s Christian faith informed much of his career &goals. In 1911-12 he travelled as a missionary to the Belgian Congo w/ a wyte bishop, Walter Russell Lambuth. It would be romanticizing Gilbert’s life if his mission work was not discussed in terms of 6/10 John Wesley Gilbert on the left & Bishop W. R. Lamuth in the Belgian Congo as missionaries.
wyte supremacy. Altho he was a pioneer in archaeology & classics, his religion & education gave him a complicated view of the world. His fields of expertise were (&still are in many ways) for wyte people. His mission work in the Belgian Congo participated in colonization & 7/10
erasing the history &culture of tribal locals. One of the positives that came out of his mission trip was that he compiled a vocab & grammar book for Tetela, the language spoken in the area where the mission work was being carried out. This complex telationship w/ both his 8/10
faith & his missionary partner are part of what makes Gilbert an important figure. We can't omit that from his bio. He had to straddle the world of wyte ppl & earned his place to work among them which furthered our understanding of ‘western civilization.' They very nature of 9/10
his work was seen through a ‘white gaze’ b/c that was/is part of his field. Read more abt this here: Gilbert faced many obstacles as a Black scholar &serves as a model for being a master of languages & a pioneer in Archaeology &Classical studies. 10/10
Day 14❤️: William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B) Du Bois (Feb.23, 1868-Aug. 27,1963) was an Historian, sociologist, civil rights activist, author, editor & Pan-Africanist. He was the 1st African American to earn a PhD from Harvard. Du Bois was born to Alfred & Mary Silvina (nee 1/18 W.E.B Du Bois
Burghardt) Du Bois. His mother, who was of mixed heritage, came from a family that was part of a small free Black population & owned land in Massachusetts. Du Bois’ paternal line was also mixed heritage, so he was lucky enough to be able to trace his lineage quite far in both 2/
Europe & Africa. Du Bois’s father was born in Haiti & immigrated to the US, eventually marrying Mary Silvina. Alfred left his family when W.E.B. was two, so he was raised primarily by his mother & her family. He grew up in a mixed community & attended an integrated public 3/18 W.E.B. Du Bois
school. He wrote abt being treated fairly well, but as an adult, he reflected on racism he felt as a fatherless child & being a minority. He must have experienced a great deal of racism that he had tried to bury, but internalized racism stays with us. Through this racism, he 4/18
was incredibly intelligent &teachers recognized his abilities. This encouragement from teachers empowered him to use his knowledge to help African Americans. Du Bois’s childhood church congregation raised $ for him to pursue his education. He attended Fisk University as an 5/18 W.E.B. Du Bois
undergrad, & there is where he witnessed Southern racism 1st-hand. This racism included Jim Crow laws, Black voter suppression, lynching & more. Upon graduation, Du Bois went to Harvard College, where he was influenced by a prominent American philosopher, Prof. William James. 6/ W.E.B. Du Bois at his desk
Harvard did not transfer Fisk Uni’s courses, so Du Bois earned his 2nd BA in History at Harvard. He graduated cum laude & received a scholarship to attend grad school there. His brilliance earned him a fellowship to attend the University of Berlin for grad work. He was able 7/
to travel extensively all over Europe & came of age intellectually during a time in Germany when the country’s most well-known social scientists were working. In Germany he wrote abt not being constantly “othered” saying wyte ppl there “they did not always pause to regard me 8/
as a curiosity, or something sub-human; I was just a man of the somewhat privileged student rank with whom they were glad to meet & talk over the world.” Within 3 yrs, Du Bois graduated from Harvard with a PhD. Du Bois went on to teach at Tuskegee Institute, Wilberforce Uni 9/ W.E.B. Du Bois
& the UofPennsylvania. He conducted research in sociology relating to Af-Am neighborhoods which became the 1st case study of a Black community in the US. Stereotypes gave Philly’s Black neighborhoods bad reputations, but Du Bois’ results based on empirical evidence undermined 10/ W.E.B. Du Bois
stereotypes. His important work rejected the idea that African Americans needed to fully integrate into wyte society. In opposition to Frederick Douglass’ argument, Du Bois encouraged African Americans to embrace their African heritage while contributing to American society. 11/
Du Bois moved on to Atlanta U & published prolifically. He became a spokesperson for Black ppl after attending the 1st Pan-African Conference organized by men from the Caribbean, & held in London in 1900. The only person who had more influence within Af-Am & wyte communities 12/ W.E.B. Du Bois
at the time was Booker T. Washington (we’ll learn abt him later). Racial tensions in the early 20th century was a catalyst that strengthened support for Du Bois’s struggle for civil rights over Booker T. Washington’s approach. Throughout his political &civil rights activism, 12/
Du Bois continued to produce scholarly work. Du Bois was offered a position of Director of Publicity & Research by the NAACP. He also suggested the word “colored” in lieu of “black” be used to include “dark skinned people everywhere.” He saw women's rights as a civil rights 13/ W.E.B. Du Bois
issue. In his support, he couldn’t publicly endorse the women’s right to vote movement b/c they refused to support his fight against racism. Feminism for wyte women is STILL an issue today. Over the next decade, Du Bois attended race conference around the world & wrote both 14/
scholarly work &novels One notable work is “The Negro” which was a history of black Africans (the 1st of its kind in English). It rebutted claims of African inferiority & influenced the Pan-African movement. It also shifted the focus from wyte Euro-centrism for the 1st time.15/ W.E.B. Du Bois
Dubois was well-travelled & met w/ many leaders, politicians & influential ppl. In all this, Du Bois continued to fight racism in academia, in his role in NAACP & w/ his activism. He used his voice & writings to oppose racism. His work is foundational for understanding race 16/
& racism. Du Bois’s political leanings made him a target by the gov’t. Throughout his life he opposed a lot of political policies that worked against BIPOC & working class. As a socialist, he was targeted by McCarthyism & the FBI. He believed that socialism could ameliorate 17/
some of the problems like racism & poverty that capitalism helped create. This thread cannot do justice to the influential work & life W.E.B. Du Bois, but his brilliance, perseverance & activism are truly inspiring. Read more abt him here: 18/18
Addendum: Today's feature wouldn't be complete without this fabulous picture of W.E.B Du Bois (sitting on the left) with the graduating class from Fisk University in 1888. W.E.B. Du Bois posing with 4 other Black graduates of Fisk University in 1888. Three women stand around the two seated men (including Du Bois on the left).
Day 15: Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (Jan.2,1898 – Nov.1,1989) was an economics professor & lawyer. She was the 1st African-American to earn a PhD in economics & the 2nd Black woman to receive a PhD in the US. She was also the 1st woman to be admitted &receive a law degree 1/11  Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
from the UofPennsylvania Law School. Mossell-Alexander comes from a long line of academic pioneers. Mossell was born to Aaron Albert Mossell II &Mary Louisa Tanner. Her father was the 1st African-American to graduate from UofPenn Law School. Her uncle, Nathan Francis Mossell 2/11
was the 1st African-American graduate of the UofPenn’s School of Medicine. Another uncle was a Dean at Howard. Her siblings were equally successful – her brother, Aaron Albert became a pharmacist & her sister Elizabeth became a Dean of Women at Virginia State College. Sadie 3/11  Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
followed in her father’s footsteps. She attended high school in DC & returned to Philly to pursue post-secondary education. An ambitious & bright woman, Mossell continued her education beyond a BA. She had been denied entry into Phi Beta Kappa, but some 50 yrs later, was 4/11
admitted w/ honor. After graduating with a BA, she was awarded a fellowship & continued her studies, graduating with a MA& PhD. Despite having a PhD, finding work was difficult for a Black woman in her field (or any field). Racial discrimination was a roadblock in her 5/11 Quote and pic of  Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander.
pursuit to make a difference, but she persevered. Following graduation, she worked for a Black-owned Insurance company in North Carolina for 2 yrs. There, she married Raymond Pace Alexander, moved back to Philly & determined to succeed, entered law school. Not only was she 6/11
the 1st to be admitted to the school & graduate, she was the 1st to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. Mossell-Alexander practiced law for almost 60 yrs. Her & her lawyer husband specialized in estate & family law, but equally important, they were both active in civil rights 7/ Sadie T. Mossell-Alexander & Terry Crisholm present MLK jr with a replica Liberty Bell at the civil rights march in Selma, AL to Montgomery AL in 1965.
rights law. Mossell-Alexander’s line of thinking was in the tradition of 19th-century scholars Frederick Douglass & T. Thomas Fortune, as well as W.E.B. Du Bois A Philip Randolph. She advocated for racial & economic justice, especially for the working class, & advocated 8/11
openly against white dominance in political, social & economic spheres. Her work & speeches are kept in UofPenn archives. Given her own activism & advocacy she was appointed to Truman’s Presidential Committee on Human Rights. Mossell-Alexander’s career was one of a commitment 9/  Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
to racial & social justice. She used her strengths to help others & as a trailblazer she achieved many firsts amidst racial and sexist discrimination, & still attained greatness. One of her most inspiring quotes reads “I knew well that the only way I could get that door open 10/  Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander
was to knock it down; because I knocked all of them down.” Read more abt her & an annual economics conference honoring her here: 11/11
Day 16: Francis Cecil Sumner (Dec.7, 1895-Jan.12, 1954) was a psychologist & American leader in education reform. He was the 1st African American to earn a PhD in psychology & is commonly known as the “Father of Black Psychology.” Sumner was born to David Alexander & Ellen 1/12 Francis Cecil Sumner
Lillian. His family adopted the surname ‘Sumner’ in honor of Charles Sumner, an antislavery senator from Massachusetts. His parents were concerned abt poor educational opportunities for Black children, so they pulled their 2 sons out of elementary school & worked extra hard to 2/
provide Francis & his older brother w/ textbooks & supplies for their education. They homeschooled their kids & carefully supervised their progress. Without formal primary education & no high school diploma, Sumner was required to take an entry-level exam before being admitted 3/ Francis Cecil Sumner
to Lincoln College. Sumner passed the test at age 15 & was admitted. He graduated magnum cum laude w/ special honors in English, Modern Languages, Greek, Latin & philosophy. He received a 2nd BA in English. After graduating, Sumner returned to Lincoln U to pursue grad studies 4/
& to teach religious studies, psychology, philosophy & German. He considered a fellowship to study ‘race psychology’ which became the foundation of much of his work. His PhD was postponed when he was drafted by the US military in 1918, he remained in France until he was 5/12
discharged in 1919. He continued his work while abroad & received his PhD the following yr, making him the 1st Af-Am to earn a PhD in psychology. Sumner’s expertise & research focused on refuting racial bias in theories used to conclude inferiority of African-Americans. His 6/12 Francis Cecil Sumner in his doctoral robes.
work was a response to Eurocentric methods of psychology. He became a professor at Wilberforce U & eventually West Virginia Collegiate Institute, where he wrote abt racial prejudice in the student body. Being outspoken about racism in academia cost Sumner funding, as research 7/
agencies refused to fund his research. Sumner moved to Howard U where he served as Chair of the Psychology dept until his untimely death from a heart attack. A devoted teacher, Sumner created an incentive program to motivate his students. An award was given to a student w/ the 8/
best essay – 1 recipient in particular was Kenneth Bancroft Clark who went on to become the 1st Af-Am president of the APA. Sumner published intensely throughout his career & had over 45 publications. His career was a mix of personal/academic achievements & struggles due to 9/12
racism. He applied in 1939 for membership to the Southern Society of Philosophy &Psychology & upon receiving his application, the SSPP council tried to amend the constitution to block his path to membership. Thankfully, many members objected & were willing to resign if Sumner 10/
was denied. Once his application was approved, pathetic reasons were given as to why he was blocked (some even blamed secretaries🙄). Official records proved concern was that more Af-Am applicants might follow & Sumner's application would be setting a precedent. His legacy is 11/
that he emphasized need for education to be customized for Af-Ams. He believed in culturally elevating Black ppl &building character. His criticism of wyte historians was that they were biased &erased Black history. Wyte-washing is an issue we are still fighting today. 12/12
Day 17: Blyden Jackson (Oct.12,1910-2000) was a literary scholar, essayist, novelist & activist. He was the 1st African-American to become a full professor at a traditionally white university (U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) in 1969. Jackson’s father, George 1/8  Blyden Jackson giving a lecture
Washington Jackson was a history teacher & his mother Julia Reid was a librarian. His brother, Reid E Jackson Sr became a prof at Morgan State U. His grandparents were born into slavery. Blyden’s immediate family were all academically gifted, so it came as no surprise that he 2/8
graduated from high school & went off to college at 14. He was already teaching middle school students during the Great Depression & received a fellowship to earn his PhD quicker than most. Jackson graduated with a BA from Wilberforce U, and earned his MA and PhD from the 3/8
Uof Michigan. As a Black man in the segregated South, Jackson was no stranger to racism, but undeterred, he completed his studies at a faster rate than most people even today & eventually became the 1st tenured Black prof at a predominately wyte university. His wife, Roberta, 4/8 Professor Blyden Jackson on the right & Professor Roberta Jackson on the left.
became the 1st Black tenure-track faculty member in Carolina’s School of Education in 1970. As an activist, he was always under surveillance, & at one point (in 1967) an undercover police officer testified at a congressional hearing that Jackson was a communist. He was, 5/8 Congressional evidence submitted against Professor Jackson by an undercover cop who testified that Jackson was a communist. This pic is of him at a protest with communists in 1967.
in fact, an admitted socialist. Jackson, as an English professor pioneered the study of African-American literature. Not only did he teach, he authored several books abt Af-Am literature & wrote extensively abt the Harlem Renaissance. Just imagine that Jackson's grandparents 6/8
were born into slavery & within 1 generation, his father was a teacher, his mother a librarian & in his generation, he achieved incredible academic success as the 1st African American to become a full-professor at a predominantly wyte institution & pioneer a new branch of 7/8
cultural & historical studies. Read more about Blyden & Roberta Jackson here: 8/8
Day 18: Benjamin Banneker (Nov.9,1731-Oct.19, 1806) was a free African-American & self-educated mathematician & student of astronomy. W/ little formal education he still made a stellar contribution to the field of astronomy. He was also an almanac author, surveyor, naturalist 1/9 Benjamin Banneker
& farmer. Born to a free African-American woman, Mary Banneky & a former slave from Guinea named Robert, Benjamin received little formal education & was mostly self-taught. As soon as he was old enough to help on the farm, his formal education ended. Later in life, he was 2/
part of a group led by Major Andrew Ellicott that surveyed the original borders of DC. Banneker had a gift for math & engineering & by 21 completed a working wooden clock that struck on the hour. He was also very good at reading the stars, & in 1788, Andrew Elliott’s son, 3/
George, loaned Banneker books & equipment to begin more formal study of astronomy. Within a year, Banneker sent George his work calculating a solar eclipse. Watch a short bio on him here: Throughout 1792, Banneker made astronomical calculations that 4/
predicted eclipses &planetary conjunctions to include in an almanac. His work was published by the president of the movement to abolish slavery in Pennsylvania. The work was accurate & the appeal to have his almanac published said that it “was a very extraordinary performance 5/9
considering the color of the author.” Banneker’s reply to the endorsement was reportedly: “I am annoyed to find that the subject of my race is so much stressed. The work is either correct or it is not. In this case I believe it to be perfect.” You can read more about him 6/
here: Banneker’s almanac was 1 of the first to be published in the US. His almanac was published & contained an anonymous essay discussing slavery. He was also in correspondence with Thomas Jefferson to make pleas for justice & equality for African 7/9
Americans. Jefferson was impressed by Banneker’s work & even sent a copy of his almanac to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris as evidence of the talent of Black ppl. His almanac helped convince some ppl that Black ppl were not intellectually inferior to wyte ppl. He was a 8/ A page from Banneker's 1792 almanac. It was one of the first to be produced in the US. The image depicts the 12 constellations. The constellations are assigned with parts of the human body.
prolific writer during his life, but sadly most of his journals & writings were destroyed during a fire on the day of his funeral. Banneker may not have received formal education or degrees but he broke barriers & was an astronomy pioneer. More here: 9/9
Day 19: Mary McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875-May 18, 1955) was an educator, stateswoman, humanitarian, philanthropist & activist. Mary was the 15th of 17 children born to former slaves, Sam & Patsy McIntosh McLeod. Most of her siblings were born into slavery but her parents 1/8 Mary McLeod Bethune
wanted to be independent & worked hard to be free. A pinnacle day in her life was when she was allowed to go into a wyte children’s nursery (when her mother was delivering laundry to wyte ppl). Mary picked up a book & a wyte child snatched it away pointing out that she didn’t 2/8 Mary McLeod Bethune
know how to read. This incident inspired her to read & learn b/c she realized the only difference between wyte & black ppl was the ability to read. She attended a 1-room schoolhouse for Black children where she bonded w/ her teacher, who became her mentor. A devoted & eager 3/8 Mary McLeod Bethune
student, she walked 5 miles a day to school. Her mentor, Emma Jane Wilson helped Mary attain a scholarship to college. She attended Scotia Seminary but was refused opportunities to become a missionary b/c she was Black. Her goal as to be a teacher & she set her mind on 4/8 Mary McLeod Bethune
opportunities to teach African Americans. Bethune worked for a short time at the school she was educated & then after getting married, she began teaching at Haines Norma & Industrial Institute. Her philosophy included emphasizing education of girls & women to improve 5/8
conditions of Black ppl. Education of women &girls is so important. Her teaching career branched out & she helped build a hospital to service Black ppl in Florida (since care for Black ppl in hospitals was not integrated until the 1960s). Bethune’s public service was immense. 6/8 Mary McLeod Bethune
She fought for civil rights, focused her life on educating &caring for Black ppl & appealed to politicians. She became a close friend of Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt. Eleanor requested a seat next to Bethune at a conference on Human Welfare in 1938, despite segregation laws. 7/8 Mary McLeod Bethune with Eleanor Roosevelt
Bethune’s legacy is 1 of being an advocate for education, especially education for women. She has empowered generation after generation, as a pioneer for educational reform &through her activism for racial justice &equality. Read more abt Bethune here: 8/8
Day 20: Richard Robert Wright (Jr.) (Apr.16,1878-Dec.12,1967) was a sociologist, editor, social worker & theologian/minister. He was the 1st African American to earn a BA at Georgia State Industrial College (where his father was president) & the 1st Black man in the US to 1/11 Richard Robert Wright (Jr.)
earn a PhD in sociology from the Uof Pennsylvania. He ended up with 2 doctorates. His father was Richard Robert Wright Sr, a college president, politician, civil rights leader & banking entrepreneur & his mother was Lydia Elizabeth (nee Howard) Wright. Undoubtedly, his 2/11
parents valued education & his father’s roles inspired Richard to pursue his own education & participate in civil rights activism. Read more about his amazing father here: Wright attended the UofChicago to get a doctorate in theology before going on to 3/
get his PhD in sociology. In 1903, Wright was able to study in Berlin &then spent a term in Leipzig before returning to Chicago where he earned his 1st PhD. Wright was partly inspired to follow the path of W.E.B DuBois (who we learned abt earlier this month) & learn abroad in 4/ Richard Robert Wright (Jr.)
his pursuit of education. Wright developed strong friendships at the UofChicago which caused him to shift his academic focus from Theology to Sociology. He enrolled at the UofPennsylvania where he was chosen to follow up DuBois’ study “Philadelphia Negro.’ He did social work 5/11
as part of his fellowship at the UofPenn. This involved teaching evening classes which led to him bonding w/ many of his students. He investigated the students’ living conditions & realized that home ownership among Af-Ams would resolve a lot of the social problems in the area 6/
that he was working. Like his father who started a bank, R.R. Jr proposed the start of a bank in the area he was working, but it was not initially successful. It took years of hard work & determination before a building & loan settlement was established which allowed the 7/11
community to grow & gave its Black residents a chance to get ahead. Wright’s follow-up study to DuBois’ “debunked the myths surrounding African Americans & he used statistical analysis & facts to explain how previous studies had failed. He was able to pinpoint the flaws in 8/
previous race studies, in part due to how ‘well-meaning’ wyte experts were approaching studies of wyte &black populations. On a basic level he found that wyte scholars’ definitions of race were problematic. He was able to draw on his expertise on social issues & focused on 9/11 Richard Robert Wright (Jr.)
systemic issues that were contributing to the “Negro Problem." He was able to outline in detail how racism was interlinked with economic & social factors, while lack of education was keeping Black ppl from progressing. Wright Jr.’s legacy is one of intellectual fervor & 10/11
compassion for people. His ministry & education were a good mix to serve others. Read more about him here: 11/11
Day 21: Ruth Winifred (Howard) Beckham (Mar.25,1900-Feb.12, 1997) was among the 1st African American women to earn a PhD in Psychology. Born to Reverend William J. Howard & Alverda Brown Howard, Ruth initially aspired to be a librarian. Her parents greatly influenced her 1/7 Ruth Winifred (Howard) Beckham
career path. Her mother encouraged her to read and her father’s ministry work ignited a passion in Ruth to help others. After graduating from high school, Howard went to college & majored in social work. After earning her BA, she worked as a social worker & went on to get a 2/7
MA. She received a fellowship where she attended both the Teacher’s College & School of Social Work alongside Columbia U where she studied child psychology. She finished her studies at the UofMinnesota where she was awarded her PhD. One of her instructors in Minnesota was 3/7
Florence Goodenough who was also a pioneer in child development psychology & gifted children. After an internship, Ruth was able to open a private practice with her husband, pioneering African American psychologist Albert Sidney Beckham. He too specialized in educational 4/7
psychology & made significant contributions regarding racial intelligence score disparity. While maintaining a practice w/ Albert, Ruth also held a staff position at a hospital in Chicago where nurses were trained. Not one to take it easy, she also lectured & did consulting 5/7
regularly. Read more abt Albert S. Beckham here:

Ruth was known for early research in effects of “nature vs nurture” & her legacy is one of academic achievements & also because of her compassionate personality, she was able to help so many children. 6/7
She focused her attention & strengths on working with children, particularly disabled ones. Kindness in academia is rare enough, but Howard-Beckham stands apart as a scholar with a heart. Read more about her here: 7/7
Day 22: Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker Jr. (Aug.24,1936 -Apr.29,2001) was a Black solar physicist (astrophysicist) & pioneer in understanding UV optics. Most notably he developed normal incidence multilayer XUV telescopes to take pics of solar corona (an aura of plasma 1/10 Arthur B.C. Walker Jr. with a telescope.
surrounding the sun & other stars). Two of his experiments recorded the 1st full-disk high res images of the sun & his research paved the wave for more advanced solar telescopes. Walker Jr. was born to Arthur &Hilda Walker, where his mom especially advocated for his education. 2/
Both his maternal and paternal grandfathers had emigrated from Barbados in the early 20th century. As an only child he excelled in school & after graduating from Bronx High School of Science, he completed his BSc in physics at Case Institute of Technology. He immediately 3/10
enrolled at the U of Illinois where he earned his masters. He initially started out his PhD in nuclear physics but switched gears and earned a PhD in astrophysics. His dissertation focused on atomic binding of protons & neutron with emphasis on radiation & force carriers 4/10 Arthur B.C. Walker Jr.
involved in atomic binding. Walker Jr. had an illustrious scientific career, beginning with the US Air Force. He helped create a satellite to study Van Allen Belt Radiation. He moved on to the Space Physics Laboratory and became director of the Space Astronomy Program. Until 5/10
his death from cancer in 2001, Walker Jr. was a professor at Stanford for almost 40 years. He was a member of the Stanford’s Center for Space and Astrophysics, and for a time was Chair. Walker mentored a over a dozen grad students--the majority of these were from under- 6/10
represented groups. His 1st grad student, Sally Ride became the 1st American woman in space. He was an advocate for marginalized students & was a role model. He is remembered for being a protector of his students, personable & caring. He was known for championing under- 7/10
privileged & minority students & became a leader in the community of black physicists. This again emphasizes how important it is to have scholars of color in EVERY field. They inspire greatness. Before Walker’s untimely death, he was still conducting invaluable research, 8/10 Arthur B.C. Walker Jr. on the left.
most notably he & colleagues used vnology to develop 3-dimensional images of celestial objects. This new technology became the basis for detecting dark matter. An award has been set up in his honor b/c of his commitment to mentoring underrepresented students who want to 9/10
pursue astronomy or to scholars doing innovative STEM research. Read more about Walker Jr. here: 10/10

Today's feature is dedicated to Leo. 🚀
Day 23: Robert Tanner Freeman (1846-1873) was the 1st African-American to graduate with a dental degree in the US from Harvard Dental School becoming a Dr of Medicine in Dentistry) at 23 yrs old. The son of a carpenter who bought his family’s freedom, Freeman ended up working 1/7 Robert T. Freeman
for a white dentist named Dr. Noble who became a mentor. Before Freeman was accepted into Harvard School of Dental Medicine he was rejected by 2 other schools because he was Black. It just so happened that HSDM had recently introduced a new faculty with an unbiased policy 2/7
which allowed Freeman to study. He had an interview w/ the dean before being accepted into the school & alongside 5 others became one of the “first 6” students to study at Harvard Dental School & the 1st African-American to graduate from there. Through perseverance & ambition 3/7 Robert T. Freeman
his acceptance into the school revolutionized dentistry for the African-American community in the later 1800s. His success paved the way for political change, as he pioneered dentistry for minorities. Progressive politicians during this time seized the opportunity to use him 4/7
as an example for how successful free African-Americans could be. His legacy went beyond dentistry, as his ambition set the bar high for others in his family. He was the grandfather of Robert C Weaver, the 1st African-American to serve in the US Cabinet under Pres LB Johnson. 5/7 Robert T. Freeman
Freeman’s acceptance into dental school sent a ripple that opened the doors for other African-Americans to enter Dental programs that were established to produce predominantly black dentists to serve their communities. Sadly Freeman's life was cut short when he contracted a 6/7
water borne plague. He was just a few years away from a PhD which would have had him running his own practice. Still, his no-quit attitude and ambition are part of his legacy. He was able to keep going despite racial oppression & is a trailblazer in the history of dentistry. 7/7 Robert T. Freeman on the right. The meme reads
Day 24: Mary Jackson (nee Winston) (Apr.9,1921-Feb.11,2005) was an African-American mathematician & aerospace engineer during segregation. She was the 1st black female engineer at NASA. She worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) 1/11 #HiddenFigures Mary Jackson
which was succeeded by NASA. Mary was born to Frank & Ella Winston in Virginia. She attended an all-black school & graduated with the highest honors. She went on to earn two degrees in math & physical science from Hampton U. After graduation Jackson taught math for a year at 2/11
an Af-Am school, as public schools were still segregated in the early 1940s in the South. She also tutored high school & college students, which was something she continued throughout her entire life. For a short period she became a bookkeeper at the National Catholic 3/11 Mary Jackson
Community Center in Hampton & became a receptionist at the Hampton Institute’s Health Department while she was pregnant with her 1st child. By 1951, ambitious Jackson became clerk at the Office of the Chief Army Field Forces. That same year she was recruited by NACA. She 4/11
started research as a mathematician under the supervision of Dorothy Vaughan (another African American, female mathematician) whose brilliance was that of a human computer. Vaughan broke barriers as well by being the 1st to supervise a team at the Langley Research Center. By 5/11 Mary Jackson
1953, she was working for an engineer in the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel. Her supervisor encouraged her to pursue grad-level courses in physics & math in order to be promoted to an engineer. Jackson had to petition the City of Hampton to allow her to take night-classes at the 6/11
Uof Virginia because the courses were held at an all-white high school. Within 5 years, she was promoted to aerospace engineer & became NASA’s 1st black engineer. Jackson eventually achieved the most senior title within the engineering dept, but she took a demotion so that 7/11 Mary Jackson at her desk
she could serve as an admin in the Equal Opportunity Specialist field. Read abt her here: Her commitment to equality trumped careerism. She eventually returned to Langley Research Center where she worked tirelessly to ensure there were changes that 8/11
would allow women & minorities to flourish and receive credit where they were deserving. Jackson is a key influence in the career paths of many women in STEM positions at NASA (and beyond). She was featured in the 2016 film #HiddenFigures which recounts her career, 9/11 A pic of the three Hidden Figures. On the left: Dorothy Vaughan. In the center: Katherine Johnson. On the right: Mary Jackson
and those of her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson. You can watch the trailer for the movie about Jackson, Vaughan and Johnson here: #hiddenfigures #katherinejohnson #blackhistorymonth 10/11
Addendum: Today we lost the brilliant #KatherineJohnson who was 101. She &women like Mary Jackson achieved greatness thru adversity & oppression. Let her memory continue to inspire girls &women. Thru hardship, we can do great things too.✊🏾Watch here: 11/11 Katherine Johnson
Day 25: George Lewis Ruffin (Dec.16,1834 - Nov. 19,1886) was an African-American attorney & judge. He was the 1st black man to graduate from Harvard Law School & the 1st Af-Am to serve on the city council in Boston. Ruffin was born a free person of color to George W. and 1/6 George Lewis Ruffin
Nancy Lewis Ruffin. His heritage was a mix of African & European. At the time of his birth, Boston had a large free black community so his family moved there from Virginia, so he could be educated in a public school. Initially, Ruffin did not pursue higher education after 2/6
graduation. He married & had a family, so he became a barber to support them. During that time, he would read law books on the side & studied law with the partnership of two lawyer-politicians in Massachusetts. Ruffin was brilliant & started publishing articles in a law 3/6 George Lewis Ruffin
journal. He saved up money and was admitted to Harvard Law School. After graduation in 1869, he ran a successful law practice in Boston. During this time he was also politically active and within 14 yrs he was appointed as a judge of the Municipal Court. He was the 1st Af-Am 4/6
justice to hold this position in New England. He was also made consul resident for the Dominical Republic. Ruffin’s daughter, Florida Ruffin Ridley became an important civil rights figure. She was a suffragist, teacher, writer & editor. George Ruffin’s scholarly path was not 5/6 George Lewis Ruffin
conventional, but his legacy is one of determination. He achieved success through dedication to learning & received recognition in a time of great racial oppression. The George L. Ruffin Society established in 1894 is now based at Northeastern Uni:… 6/6
Day 26: George Washington Carver(1860s-Jan.5,1943) was an African-American agricultural scientist, professor, & inventor. He is considered the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century. His reputed inventions, talent, & achievements saw him receive recognition 1/13 George Washington Carver
& praise in both black & white communities. In 1941 @TIME bestowed the nickname “Black Leonardo” on Carver. He was born into slavery to Giles & Mary who were owned by a German American immigrant named Moses Carver. Carver’s birthdate is unknown beyond pinning it down to the 2/13
1860s. When George was a week old, his sister & mom were kidnapped, while his brother James was safely hidden. The kidnappers sold George’s mother & sister, so George’s owner hired a man to find them. Only the infant, George, was found. Moses negotiated George’s return. 3/13 George Washington Carver
After slavery was abolished in 1865, Moses & his wife raised George & his brother James as their own children. His adopted mother “aunt Susan” taught him basic reading & writing. Because black people couldn’t go to public schools in the area, Carver attended a school 10 miles 4/ George Washington Carver
away. At 13 he wanted to pursue more education so he relocated to the home of another foster family. It was here that he witnessed a black man killed by a group of white people, so he left & attended a number of schools before graduating in Kansas. It was difficult for Carver 5/ George Washington Carver
to be accepted into college as a black man, but after several unsuccessful applications, he was finally accepted at Highland U in Kansas. When he arrived, they refused him on account of his race. He had struck out again. He was able to acquire some gov’t land & maintained a 6/13
small conservatory. He earned money doing odd jobs & in 1888 obtained a loan for education. In two years, he was studying art and piano at Simpson College in Iowa, and was encouraged to study botany. He enrolled at Iowa State in 1891, becoming the 1st black man to do so. His 7/13 George Washington Carver
brilliance caught the attention of professors & he was encouraged to pursue an MA. His thesis gained him national recognition & respect as a botanist. After graduating with his Masters, he became Iowa State’s 1st black faculty member. In 1896, Carver was invited to Tuskegee 8/13
Institute by the 1st principal & pres, Booker T. Washington. Carver joined the institute and headed the Agriculture dept. for 47 yrs. In that time, Carver developed a number of techniques to improve soil depleted by repeated cotton planting. He founded an industrial research 9/13 George Washington Carver in his research laboratory.
laboratory, where original research was carried out. An American industrialist & farmer William Edenborn ended up consulting Carver and through his guidance grew peanuts on Carver’s demonstration farm. Carver ended up testifying as an expert witness in front of congress 10/13
(which was rare due to segregation). He was mocked on arrival, but he talked about the importance of peanuts & its uses in agriculture. A tariff lobbied by peanut farmers & industry reps was passed to import/export goods much thanks to Carver’s testimony. The last decades of 11/ George Washington Carver
Carver’s life saw him enjoy some celebrity status. He promoted Tuskegee U, his passion for peanuts, & racial harmony. He was a prolific writer & used his fame to spread hope & inspire. A twitter bio will never do justice to Carver’s accomplishments, but his legacy lives on. 12/13 George Washington Carver
He is generally 1 of the few black scholars that kids learn abt. To come from such tragedy in his early years to become such a brilliant innovator, educator & humanitarian, Carver remained an incredibly humble man. You can see & listen to him here: 13/13
Day 27: Aaron Albert Mossell (1863-Feb.1, 1951) was the 1st Black man to graduate with a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mossell II was born in Hamilton, Canada to Aaron Albert Mossell, who was the grandson of slaves. Aaron II’s mother was Eliza Bowers, a free 1/6
woman from Baltimore whose family had been deported to Trinidad when she was a child. She eventually returned to the US & met her husband. Aaron I & Eliza moved their family from Maryland to Hamilton to escape rampant racism. Mossell II was encouraged to read as a child. He 2/6
made his way through early education & decided he wanted to do more. He graduated from Lincoln University with a BA & then went on to pursue a law degree at UofPennsylvania Law School. He would have endured immense prejudice, being the 1st Black man to graduate from there 3/6
but he persevered. After law school he went on to become editor of the ‘Law Review.’ He ended up opening a law practice w/ 2 African-American colleagues, & he was a solicitor of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital. His brother, Nathan was the medical director at the 4/6
hospital. The racial riots of 1917-19 in Philadelphia led to him being the legal advisor and representative for a number of African-American men. He became known for his civil rights advocacy. He had three children who all went on to have incredible careers. One of his 5/6
daughters, Sadie Tanner Mossell, was featured earlier this month, as the 1st Af-American to receive a PhD in economics. After a long career Aaron separated from his wife, Mary Louise Tanner & settled in Wales. 6/6
Day 28: Ira Frederick Aldridge (July 24, 1807-Aug. 7,1867) was an African-American & later British stage actor & playwright. He became the 1st African-American actor to establish himself professionally in a foreign country. Aldridge was born to Rev. Daniel & Luranah in NYC. 1/11 Ira Frederick Aldridge
Aldridge attended the African Free school that was established for children of free black people & slaves. He was exposed to theatrical performances early on since the African Grove Theatre was established by the 1st African-American playwright, William Alexander Brown (read 2/11
abt him in an earlier post). Aldridge, who had received a classical education was familiar with Shakespeare’s plays. He 1st gained acting experience with the African Company (founded by Brown), & made his debut as Rolla in Sheridan’s ‘Pizarro.’ Reports claim that he may have 3/11 Ira Frederick Aldridge
also played the male lead in Romeo & Juliet. Persistent racial discrimination, protests & attacks forced Aldridge to emigrate to England with another actor, James Wallack. Acting was clearly his passion. By 17, Aldridge had worked his way up in the London theatre scene & 1st 4/11
appeared on the London stage in a small production of ‘Othello.’ Something that set him apart &helped him garner attention was an innovative address to the audience he would give on the closing night of his performances at any theatre. He spoke passionately abt the injustice 5/11 Ira Frederick Aldridge
of slavery. He took every opportunity to speak about the abolition of slavery. His words also reveal how he used his position to advocate for racial justice. He was an early activist-actor. Early reviews of his work were mixed. Some cited lack of experience, but other 6/11
reviews were outright racist. The Times described him as “baker-kneed and narrow-chested with lips so shaped that it is utterly impossible for him to pronounce English.” Undeterred, Aldridge pressed on. His performance from Othello impressed reviewers & he progressed to 7/11
larger roles. By 1825 he had top billing at London’s Coburg Theatre. Aldridge travelled throughout Europe successfully acting in Dublin, Bath &E’burgh but he was especially popular in Switzerland, Prussia & Russia. He received honors from heads of state for his performances. 8/11 Ira Frederick Aldridge
He was successfully sued by another actor who alleged that Aldridge had had an affair with his wife, which produced a son. The story never damaged his career, so he was truly a celebrity. Aldridge was about to make a triumphant return to the US, but died suddenly while on 9/11
tour in Poland (where he is buried). His troupe “The Ira Aldridge Troupe” turned ‘blackface’ and minstrelsy on its head. While white people used ‘blackface’, Aldridge’s troupe used “whiteface” (lol) and caricatured the Irish accent. Overall, Aldridge’s legacy is one of 10/11 Ira Frederick Aldridge
determination despite racial discrimination. No one stopped him from his goals of being an actor, and he ended up not only enjoying local success, but international fame and celebrity. Read more about Aldridge here: 11/11
Day 29: Georgiana Rose Simpson (1865-1944) was a philologist who earned a PhD in German at the U of Chicago. She was among the 1st African-American women to receive a PhD in the US. Simpson was born to David & Catherine. As a child she attended public school & then trained to 1/9 Georgiana Rose Simpson
teach elementary school. During the time she was teaching, she taught in German immigrant communities. Because of her gift of teaching & ability to connect w/ students, she was encouraged to pursue higher ed. She studied German formally under the tutelage of Dr. Lucy E. Moten 2/9
(an educator & doctor). Simpson received her BA in 1911 but not without an insurmountable amount of racial prejudice. Early in her enrollment at the U of Chicago she was invited to reside in the women’s dorm. Shortly after, white students protested. She was asked by Sophonisba 3/
Breckinridge (a social scientist, social reformer & activist) who was head of the residence hall to leave. Simpson refused to leave, so we have another example like Rosa Parks of a woman taking a stand against segregation. Breckinridge & the Dean of Women (Mary Talbot) made 4/9
an executive decision allowing Simpson to stay, but the university president stepped in & overruled. Because racism was so rampant on campus, she completed the rest of her studies & her MA through summer & correspondence courses. That would have been so isolating, but she was 5/9
incredibly strong & persevered. Through this she had the backing & support of her black colleagues. A letter from the Frederick Douglass Center was sent to the university president condemning the university’s actions. This setback didn’t stop her for good and she persevered. 6/9
During her post-grad career, Simpson continued to teach. She eventually completed her PhD dissertation entitled “Herder’s Conception of ‘Das Volk’ &earned her PhD in 1921. She received her PhD along with other black women like Sadie Tanner Mossell (who was featured earlier), 7/9
Eva B. Dykes & Anna Julia Cooper. Although their PhDs didn’t necessarily improve their situations due to racism, they 'broke the glass ceiling.' Simpson returned to teaching after receiving her PhD, since most universities did not hire black women outside of home economics. 8/9
One of her greatest achievements was a translation of a French work outlining the bio of the leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture. Read more abt the incredible Simpson who made great academic achievements at great personal cost. 9/9
Day 30: Booker Taliaferro Washington (Apr.5,1856-Nov.14,1915). No list honoring great black academics in history would be complete without mention of Booker T. Washington. He was an educator, author, & orator who advised several US presidents. Washington was born into 1/19 Booker T. Washington
slavery. His mother was an African-American slave named Jane. His father is said to have been a white man from a neighboring plantation, but he was not in Washington’s life. After emancipation, Jane moved the family to West Virginia to be with her husband, Washington Ferguson 2/ Booker T. Washington
who had escaped slavery during the war. Ferguson adopted Booker. West Virginia had joined the Union as a free state during the Civil War. Washington described his childhood as one of hardship because of the demands of slavery. See the quote below for his account of painful 3/19
trauma due to racism. Once the family settled, Washington started the arduous task of teaching himself to read. He wanted to learn more. Up until that time, Booker didn’t know his full name. How could he with a birth father he did not know? He registered in school with his 4/ Booker T. Washington
stepfather’s name, & later learned that his mother had given him the name “Booker Taliaferro” when he was born. He readopted his full name Booker Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”) Washington, which he used for his life. He had to beg his mother to attend, & she agreed as 5/19 Booker T. Washington
long as he worked in the salt furnace from 4am-9am before school. Booker was studious in school & knew he wanted to pursue further education. To earn money he continued in the salt furnaces & coal mines &attended Hampton Institute. After completion, he later attended Wayland 6/19 Booker T. Washington
Seminary. To think that Washington went from slavery & not knowing how to read, to being recommended 1st leader of Tuskegee Normal & Industrial Institute in 1881 when he was only 25 yrs old is truly remarkable. The following year, Washington purchased a former plantation in 7/
order to build a permanent campus. Students literally built the school, brick by brick, in which they could learn. The school had humble beginnings teaching trades, but expanded. Today it is Tuskegee University. Washington was widowed twice in a number of years (he remarried 8/19 Booker T. Washington at his desk.
& his 3rd wife who helped raise his children outlived him). This also brings attention to Black women’s health which is still not taken seriously today. His pain must have been immeasurable but he continued to fight for the rights of Black people to be educated. His reasoning 9/ Booker T. Washington with his three children.
was that if black men & women were educated & were able to provide necessary skills, this might lead to softening of prejudice & acceptance from white Americans. In 1895 he gave the ‘Atlanta Exposition address” which brought him national attention. He was supported by other 10/19
black leaders like W.E.B. DuBois (NAACP founder & civil rights leader featured earlier this month), but the two ended up disagreeing on approaches to racial justice. DuBois thought that Washington’s approach was a compromise forcing African Americans to work for, & submit to 11/ Booker T. Washington giving a passionate speech
white rule. The difference in some ways boiled down to a north vs south divide, where in the south black people had no political power. DuBois wanted the same rights for black ppl as for whites, whereas, Washington knew that laws had black ppl so constrained, that there 12/19
needed to be a compromise – while black ppl gained equality in incremental stages. Washington’s approach is difficult to understand unless seen from that perspective, but given what he was trying to achieve, he was using compromises & negotiations that he hoped would better 13/19 Booker T. Washington
the black community. He advocated for a “go slow” approach w/ the hope that this would prevent backlash from white Americans, gain their trust & help ease them into equality later on. Both leaders agreed on education though and that is what is important here. Washington made 14/
connections & gained respect throughout the years, building friendships with a number of wealthy (self-made) men. Oil magnates, the founder of Sears, the inventor of roll film & founder of Kodak were all donors funding Washington’s causes & schools. This helped so immensely 15/19 Booker T. Washington speaking at Carnegie Hall.
that he was able to develop other schools & colleges & make a larger impact as a speaker. You can hear him here:
Washington’s advocacy of learning, his contributions to both black &white communities & his desire for racial justice are his legacy.16/19
Washington travelled & worked a lot but continued as principal of Tuskegee, but his health started to deteriorate before he was 60. He had collapsed & in 1915 & new his end was near, so requested to be boarded on a train, so he could die at Tuskegee where his life 17/19 Booker T. Washington
and passion was. Washington died a few hrs after arriving at Tuskegee, at the age of 59. It was later discovered that he died of congestive heart failure because of overwork. What we can thank him for is leading the way &allowing an immeasurable amount of people to start & 18/19 Booker T. Washington
pursue their education. Read his incredible autobiography. It’s amazing. You can also read more about him here: 19/19
Day 31: Guion (Guy) Stewart Bluford Jr (Nov.22, 1942-present) is an aerospace engineer, former NASA astronaut & the 1st African-American & 2nd PoC to go to space. Bluford was born to Guion Sr. & Lolita Bluford. His parents were well educated & encouraged their 3 sons to value 1/8 Guion S. Bluford Jr
learning. Bluford Jr. was intrigued with space & flying & excelled in school as a child. Even though he was a high achiever, his high school counselor suggested he wasn’t “college material.” This discouragement did not stop him, but it does point to a common practice of 2/8 Guion S. Bluford Jr in the space shuttle.
dissuading students of color from achieving goals. He set his heart on aerospace engineering & went on to receive a BSc from Pennsylvania State University. While working on his degree, he got married, started a family, got his pilot license and flew combat missions in the 3/8 Guion S. Bluford Jr  in the challenger shuttle.
Vietnam War with the US Air Force. When he returned home, he went on to pursue a Masters in the same subject, and after graduating with a MSc he earned a PhD 4 yrs later (1978) in the same field with a minor in Laser Physics. After completing his PhD, Bluford was selected to 4/8
become a NASA astronaut. He and 7 others trained for a year and his 1st mission, which launched him into space in the Challenger, was in 1983. Bluford became a trailblazer for other black astronauts, & is quoted as saying he wanted African-Americans to be proud of being 5/8 Three of the first African-American astronauts. From left to right: Ronald McNair, Guion Stewart Bluford Jr, & Frederick D. Gregory.
participants in the space program & desired to set an example for others. Ever the one to expand his mind, Bluford achieved a MA in Business Admin in 1987. There are no limits to learning. After retiring from NASA, Bluford went on to take up executive posts and more recently 6/8 Guion S. Bluford Jr
in 2002, he became President of Aerospace Technology. Dr. Bluford is a living legend & we can look to his example as inspiration for what can be achieved now and in the future. He really did reach for the stars. He has received numerous honors & awards for his achievements & 7/8 Guion S. Bluford Jr
continues to inspire a new generation. You can listen to him & watch him here: 8/8

This ends this year's #blackhistorymonth 31-day feature of black academics.
ADDENDUM: This ends our full-month honoring black men & women in academia. Scholars were chosen from a variety of fields to inspire people to learn abt trailblazers that made a different (&continue to) in our world. Racists like to argue that Black ppl have not 1/7 #BlackTwitter
achieved, have not inspired, have not made a difference in the world. They are wrong. #BlackExcellence is real. Featured scholars included: literary scholars, historians, law professors, biologists, chemists, physicists, archaeologists, geologists, geographers, playwrights, 2/7
mathematicians, engineers, psychologists, economics, medicine, astronomers, astrophysicists, classicists, philologists & other experts. There were too many to feature in 31 days. Some of these individuals have statues, buildings and schools named in their honor, while others 3/7
still do not receive the recognition they deserve. They may not have aspired to have things made in their honor but they made a difference in the world. Just think that for some, it took one generation to go from slavery to a PhD. That is standing in the face of adversity and 4/7
saying "I can do this. I will do this." Racial oppression was a major setback and racism was always present in these men and women's lives. The strength and determination of them all is inspiring. Please take this thread and use it where it will be useful. Read & share. 5/7
Let this thread featuring &honoring Black scholars in history be your ammunition. The list is too long to have featured everyone, &that’s a good thing. Don’t let this list be the end of your search, because these figures have been hidden for a long time. Inspire & be inspired. 6/
Honorable mentions to look up:

David Blackwell
Albert Sidney Beckham
Edwin C. J. Howard
Lucy Craft Laney
Eva B. Dykes
Anna Julia Cooper
Cornel West (buy his books)
Ciara sivels

#blackhistorymonth #blackexcellence #BlackTwitterMovement #blacktwitter
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