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.