Longstanding beliefs in the academic world did concede that blacks were sentient creatures who were self-aware and capable of learning limited tasks. But academic orthodoxy in the United States held that Negroes were not capable of the abstract thinking and calculations that were necessary to do important work in mathematics. Thomas Jefferson, the author of a famous document that proclaimed that "all men are created equal" at one point wrote a friend, "I have not yet found one of them [Negroes] who could solve the geometrical problems of Euclid." More than a century later L.M. Terman, the creator of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, concluded that the low-scoring racial minorities "cannot master abstractions." Given these firm beliefs in the inherent incapacity of Negroes, it followed that there was little purpose in expending serious scholarly effort in preparing blacks for teaching or research in the most onerous and complex field of academic mathematics. In this setting, what happened to the behavior of black people was predictable under accepted economic theory. Standard theory forecasts shortages of a product when there is no demand for it. Black people with intellectual potential in the field of mathematics behaved rationally. They quite sensibly did not seek out Ph.D.s in mathematics. Those who did often found that their research and ideas were not respected or even considered by their white peers. Above all, no serious academic journal was willing to publish their work. It appears that the first-known publication of a mathematical paper by an African American in a U.S. journal was Dudley Weldon Woodard's article that appeared in a 1929 edition of Over the last half of the twentieth century blacks began to make some inroads in the field of academic mathematics. But the progress has proceeded at a snail's pace. According to JBHE research, as late as 1999 there were only four blacks teaching mathematics among the more than 900 faculty members of the mathematics departments of the nation's 25 highest-ranked universities. In 2003, the latest year for which complete data is available, only 16 of the 994 Ph.D.s awarded in mathematics by American universities went to blacks. As a measure of the black presence in academic mathematics, JBHE conducted a citation count of the list of African-American mathematicians compiled by Professor Scott Williams of the University of Buffalo (www.math.buffalo.edu/mad). Using the data from Dr. Williams' extensive and highly informative research project, we identified 96 blacks who are currently teaching mathematics or in a closely related field at American colleges and universities. Of these, 26 are teaching at historically black colleges and universities. JBHE took this list of 96 black mathematicians at U.S. colleges and universities and searched their names in the database of the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia (ISI). Each year ISI reviews hundreds of thousands of scholarly articles from thousands of academic journals published worldwide to determine how many times scholars had been cited by their peers in academic journals. We tabulated the results for the black mathematicians on our list. • Professor Johnson, who was cited 65 times in academic journals in 2004, is a graduate of Imperial College, London University and holds a Ph.D. from Southampton University. • • Dr. Brown is a Harvard man to the core. He is a 1978 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College. He holds a master's and Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard and is also a graduate of the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Brown is widely published in academic journals. He was cited 45 times by his peers in 2004, placing him third in the JBHE rankings. • • In fifth place in JBHE's rankings of the most highly cited black mathematicians is Professor • Professor Blackwell is now 86 years old. Yet his work is still highly regarded by colleagues both black and white. In 2004 he was cited 20 times, good for seventh place on our list of the most highly cited black mathematicians. | |