Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr King's dream and Black math students

Today is our public celebration of the January 15 birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968) who was both preacher and poet in the "I have a dream" speech he delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. 

Dr King's speech began with:

     Five score years ago, a great American,
     in whose symbolic shadow we stand
     signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
     This momentous decree came as a
     great beacon light of hope
     to millions of Negro slaves who had been
     seared in the flames of withering injustice.
     It came as a joyous daybreak
     to end the long night of captivity.
     But one hundred years later, we must
     face the tragic fact that the Negro
     is still not free.

Black Americans have fought for parity in every field--and current news shows that 47 years after King's speech and 147 years after the Emancipation Proclamation the struggle is not yet over for students in mathematics:     A recent study from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reports that black students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities are more likely to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math than those who attend other colleges and universities.  The study has not been made public but the Commission says it found that HBCU students reported higher levels of academic involvement in their studies and in faculty research projects than Black students at non-HBCUs.  The Commission concluded that the success of these programs comes from the lack of “academic mismatch” that is often found at non-HBCUs.

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