Recognizing Percy Julian
February 2nd, 2017 | Caitlin Lombardo, Community Learning Specialist
In observance of Black History Month we’ll be highlighting African American scientists, inventors, mathematicians and engineers.
Percy Julian fought racial prejudice through every step of this career. He attended school up to 8th grade in Montgomery, Alabama. There were no schools available for black children after 8th grade so Julian took remedial courses at DePauw University to catch up. He nevertheless attended university and pursued a Master’s degree in chemistry at Harvard. Julian would have pursued a PhD but Harvard didn’t award degrees to African Americans at the time. He headed to Vienna, Austria for that PhD and returned to America.
While working for DePauw upon his return, he found a successful way to synthesize a medicine for glaucoma. Despite this accolade- DePaul University would not make him a full professor due to his race. He left academia and began working for Glidden. Here he discovered the soybean could be tapped for several useful hormones. For this he was named Chicagoan of the Year, again Julian would face racially-based violence. His home in Oak Park, Illinois was firebombed but the Julians refused to leave. In 1953 he started his own company. His independent research led to over 100 patents by the 1970s. He received 18 honorary degrees and a dozen civic and scientific awards.
Percy Julian laid the groundwork for many of the things important to Do Space, things like equal access to technology and educational resources. Do Space is here to help you reach your goals and provide the resources you might need to achieve those goals.
Read more about Percy Julian HERE.