Home > General, Math > Famous Black Mathematicians – Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr.

Famous Black Mathematicians – Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr.

February 9, 2009

Dr. Wilkins showed promise at an early age, entering the University of Chicago at the age of 13.  At the age of 19, in 1942, he became only the seventh African-American to obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics from that university.  His parents were equally successful, his father being appointed assistant secretary of Labor from 1954 – 1958.  Here is an excerpt from a TIME Magazine article, August 30, 1954.

“Chicago Lawyer J. Ernest Wilkins (Sr), son of a Missouri Baptist preacher, is the only Negro ever to attain the title of assistant secretary in the Federal Government. He attained it last March, when President Eisenhower appointed him Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs. Last week, with Secretary James Mitchell and Under Secretary Arthur Larson out of town on speechmaking trips, brainy Ernest Wilkins, 60, became the first Negro ever to attend a White House Cabinet meeting as the representative of a department. He was appointed to the 1958 Civil Rights Commission.”

Read more about Dr. Wilkins here, which includes a link to his research and impressive list of publications.

  1. February 10, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Interesting story. Thanks for the link!

    • February 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

      No problem – there will be more. African Americans have made substantial and often unrecognized (or certainly under appreciated) contributions to the mathematical sciences. I look forward to highlighting these contributions.

      – jim armstrong

  2. eve carson
    February 22, 2009 at 7:22 am

    do u guy kno a black mathematician i can do a project on?
    it has to be a good person that has alot of info on him…
    ok?

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