Edray Goins’ MAA Invited Address

Edray Herber Goins, Pomona College, gives the MAA Invited Address “A Dream Deferred: 50 Years of Blacks in Mathematics” on January 17, 2019 at the 2019 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in Baltimore, MD.

Abstract: In 1934, Walter Richard Talbot earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh; he was the fourth African American to earn a doctorate in mathematics. His dissertation research was in the field of geometric group theory, where he was interested in computing fundamental domains of action by the symmetric group on certain complex vector spaces. Unfortunately, opportunities for African Americans during that time to continue their research were severely limited. “When I entered the college teaching scene, it was 1934,” Talbot is quoted as saying. “It was 35 years later before I had a chance to start existing in the national activities of the mathematical bodies.” Concerned with the exclusion of African Americans at various national meetings, Talbot helped to found the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in 1969.

In this talk, we take a tour of the mathematics done by African and African Americans over the past 50 years since the founding of NAM, weaving in personal stories and questions for reflection for the next 50 years.

Additionally, here’s a link to audio of a conversation between Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Officer, and Edray Goins about his invited address at this meeting.

Pamela Harris’ MAA Invited Address

Pamela Harris, Williams College, gives the MAA Invited Address “A Mathematical Journey of Culture, Community, and Collaboration” on January 18, 2019 at the 2019 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in Baltimore, MD.

As a first generation college student and a dreamer, the experience of not knowing people of similar cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds working in academia, affected my confidence and belief that I could become a mathematician. I often felt isolated and unsure of my abilities to succeed in this field. However, these experiences positively impacted
my goals as an educator. In this talk I’ll share how, through my teaching, I aim to instill mathematical confidence in all students, and how learning and research communities help develop a culture of continuous improvement and collective responsibility.

Abstract: It wasn’t until the last year of my graduate program that I met another Latina Ph.D. mathematician. Before this I thought that I may be the only Latina working on a Ph.D. in the mathematical sciences. Of course this was silly, as I could have simply searched the words “Latinas in math” to discover Ruth Gonzalez, the first US born Hispanic woman who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics. The year? 1986 – during my lifetime.

Someone You Should Know: Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Dr. Haynes was born Martha Euphemia Lofton, though she rarely went by the name Martha. She grew up in Washington, D.C. She received her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Smith College in 1914, a Master’s in education from University of Chicago in 1930, and her Ph.D. in mathematics from The Catholic University of America in 1943. She was the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics.

Dr. Haynes spent 45 years teaching in Washington, D.C. at the elementary level to university level. She served as professor of mathematics at Miner Teaching College, organizing and chairing the department. After desegregation, she was a professor and chair of the DC Teacher College until her retirement in 1959.

Dr. Haynes was very involved with service to her community, starting at a young age through her church. She was a member of the United Service Organization, the National Committee on Service to Negroes, and the National Committee on Service to Women and Girls. She was also a member of the American Mathematical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, president of the National Association of College Women-DC Branch, and chairman of the Committee on Education for Sigma Delta Epsilon.

Shortly after her retirement, Dr. Haynes was selected to serve on the DC school board. In this role, she fought to end the “track system”, which placed students on a college prep curriculum, general curriculum, or basic curriculum. This led to the Hobson v. Hansen district court case in 1966, where the court ruled that black and poor students were unconstitutionally deprived of their right to equal education.

Dr. Haynes died in 1980 in Washington, D.C. She lived a life full of faith and service. Issues that she fought still continue this day, including unequal access to public education, unequal quality of education in poorer neighborhoods, and divisions among race and income for gifted and talented programs.

For more information on Dr. Haynes, see this AMS Notices article or her Wikipedia biography.