Celebrating Black Mathematicians


The first four mathematicians featured on the Mathematically Gifted and Black website: Trachette Jackson, Arlie Petters, Tasha Innis, and Mohamed Omar.

As you may know, February is Black History Month in the U.S. To celebrate, the new website Mathematically Gifted and Black is featuring a different black mathematician every day this month. The site was started by mathematicians Erica Graham, Raegan Higgins, Candice Price, and Shelby Wilson, who were inspired by Lathisms, a similar project featuring Latinx and Hispanic mathematicians in September and October. (I wrote about that project here in October.) As they write in their mission statement,

Our mission is to feature and share the accomplishments of blacks in the mathematical sciences. The mathematicians highlighted here have made significant contributions in research, mentoring, and teaching. This platform provides access to the diverse and dynamic community of black mathematicians.

So far I’ve seen two familiar faces and four new ones on the calendar, and I’m looking forward to seeing who else pops up this month. You can suggest people for next year by emailing the organizers. Price, Wilson, Syvillia Averett, and Dandrielle Lewis are also making short videos about black mathematicians and posting one each Sunday this month. The first one is here.

The Mathematically Gifted and Black website banner.

The Mathematically Gifted and Black website banner.

The runaway success of the movie Hidden Figures, which brings to light the work black women did in the early days of NASA in spite of racist and sexist barriers they faced, makes me optimistic that more people want to learn about people like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. I know the movie has been a source of inspiration for teachers who want to get their students excited about math and science and broaden their perspective on who mathematicians and scientists are. Sites like Mathematically Gifted and Black and this Marie Claire article about black women currently working at NASA are also good places to meet more people who follow in that legacy.

For more resources for learning about black mathematicians, check out this roundup I wrote last year.

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