Someone You Should Know: Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Euphemia Lofton Haynes
1890-1980

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.

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