Famous Black Mathematicians – Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr.
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.”