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<Chemists>

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Allen, Elmer Lucille
Birth Year : 1931
Mrs. Elmer Lucille Allen was born in Louisville, KY. She is a 1953 chemistry graduate of Nazareth College [now Spalding University], and in 1966 she became the first African American chemist at the Brown-Forman Company in Louisville. Allen was one of three women employed at the company, where she held the title of senior analytical chemist. She retired from the company in 1997 and returned to college to earn a MA in creative arts in ceramics from the University of Louisville in 2002. Allen's art work has been displayed at various galleries in Louisville, Indiana, Kansas, and many other locations. She was the first recipient of the Community Arts Lifetime Local Achievement Award in 2004, and that same year was also recognized as a Woman of Distinction. In 2007 she was one of the "Women of Spunk" honorees. Allen is also actively involved as a community volunteer with organizations such as the Louisville Western Branch Library Support Group, Inc. For more see J. Egerton, "Actors Theatre will honor Women of Spunk," The Courier-Journal, 12/02/2007, Arts & Travel section, p. 1I; and "Black Achievements in the Arts Recognized by Governor's Awards" a kyarts.org press release on 01/31/2005.
See "U of L: Elmer Lucille Allen" at YouTube.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Chemists, Civic Leaders, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Bate, Langston F.
Birth Year : 1899
Death Year : 1977
Langston Fairchild Bate was born in Danville, KY, the son of Ida W. and John W. Bate. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the age of 26 from the University of Chicago, later heading the chemistry departments at Lincoln University in Missouri, Virginia State College, and Miner Teachers College in Washington D. C. [which merged with two other colleges to form the present day University of the District of Columbia]. Bate was chair of the chemistry department at Miners College from 1944-1954. He published several articles in science journals. Langston F. Bate was a normal graduate from Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University] and is believed to be the first to earn a Ph. D. For more see Blacks in Science and Medicine, by V. O. Sammons; "Langston Bate, Division Head at Miners College," Washington Post, 07/17/1977, Obituaries section, p. 49; and see the last paragraph of the article "Two Kentucky State College graduates...," The Crisis, vol.57, no.11, p.736. Additional information provided by Kenneth Bate, son of Langston F. Bate.
Subjects: Chemists, Education and Educators, Migration North
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Brady, St. Elmo
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1966
St. Elmo Brady was born in Louisville, KY. He was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States, earning his degree at the University of Illinois (UI) in 1916 for work in Noyes Laboratory [at UI]. He taught at Tuskegee University, Howard University, Fisk University, and Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He was the first African American admitted to the chemistry honor society, Phi Lambda Upsilon. For more see Blacks in Science and Medicine, by V. O. Sammons.
Subjects: Chemists, Education and Educators
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Bramwell, Fitzgerald B. "Jerry"
Birth Year : 1945
Fitzgerald Bramwell was born in New York. In 1995 he was a chemistry faculty member and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Kentucky. In 1996, Bramwell was the highest ranking African American at the University of Kentucky. Bramwell earned his B.A. from Columbia University and his master's and doctorate from the University of Michigan. His research explores how beams of laser light change the structure and reaction of certain carbon-based compounds. Bramwell has written a number of articles and is author of Investigations in general chemistry: quantitative techniques and basic principles and co-author of Basic laboratory principles in general chemistry: with quantitative techniques. For more see Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century (1996), by J. H. Kessler, et al. Of the total chemists and materials scientists in Kentucky, 4% are African Americans, according to Census 2000 data.
Subjects: Authors, Chemists, Education and Educators, Migration South
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / New York

Letton, James Carey
Birth Year : 1933
Death Year : 2013
Born in Paris, KY, James C. Letton, a retired chemist, was a 1955 graduate of Kentucky State University who served as president of the Alumni Association from 1979-1984. He earned his Ph. D. from the University of Illinois in 1970 and returned to Kentucky State University to chair the Chemistry Department. After five years, Letton was hired at Proctor & Gamble Company as an organic chemist. Letton has a number of patents and was featured in Black Enterprise in 1990 when he was working on the fat substitute, Olestra. His research and publications have been in the areas of medicinal chemistry. Letton has received a number of awards, including being named the recipient of the 1989 Percy L. Julian Award "for significant contributions in pure and/or applied research in science or engineering." That same year he was awarded the distinguished alumni citation from the National Association for Equal Opportunities in Education. For more see Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 1975-1977; "Changing America's Diet," Black Enterprise, vol. 20, issue 7 (Feb. 1990), p. 106; and James Carey Letton in American Men & Women of Science, 1971-2007. 

See also "In Memoriam: James Carey Letton, 1933-2013," a Journal of Blacks in Higher Education website.
Subjects: Chemists, Education and Educators, Migration North, Researchers
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Wilson, Atwood S.
Birth Year : 1895
Death Year : 1967
Atwood S. Wilson was a chemist, educator, civil rights leader and community leader in Louisville, KY. He was born in the California neighborhood of Louisville to Allen and Mary Wilson. A 1910 graduate of Central High School in Louisville, he graduated magna cum laude from Fisk University in 1915 with a major in science and mathematics. He went on to earn a B.S. in chemistry (in 1920) and a M.S. in education (in 1934) from the University of Chicago. He first taught at State Street High School, located in the Shake Rag District of Bowling Green, KY, beginning in 1915, then left the school in 1917 to serve as a chemistry researcher at the American University Experiment Station during World War I. After the war, Wilson returned to Louisville and served as secretary-treasurer of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association (KNEA) from 1922-1942. He also chaired the organization's Merger Committee, which led in the integration of Kentucky's education organizations, the KNEA and KEA. In 1928, Wilson was named the first principal of Madison Junior High [the school was later named Russell Junior High]. In 1934, Wilson became principal of Central High School and led the planning and building of the new Central High School, which opened in 1952; it was the first comprehensive high school in Kentucky. Wilson was also principal of the Central High Adult Night School, grades 1-12, from which he retired in 1963. During his tenure, he also held a number of appointments, including membership on the executive committee of the National Youth Administration in Kentucky. In 1944, Wilson was appointed a trustee on the Board of the Louisville Free Public Library, and in 1948 he presented the resolution that abolished segregation at the main library building. Wilson was the first African American in the South to be recognized with a citation for his service on a library board. He received many other awards, including the Silver Beaver Award for his distinguished service to the Boy Scouts of America, presented to him in person by President Hoover in 1933. Wilson also received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Simmons University [Kentucky] in 1954. In recognition of his contributions, in 1974 the Kentucky Education Association co-named an award in his honor: "The Lucy Harth Smith-Atwood S. Wilson Award for Civil and Human Rights in Education." Atwood S. Wilson is mentioned in several biographies on the life of Muhammad Ali; Wilson encourage Ali [then known as Cassius Clay] to finish high school, though he was at the bottom of his class. Wilson was impressed by Ali's dedication and work ethic toward becoming a world boxing champion. In 2000, Wilson was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights' Hall of Fame, and, in 2005, was among the first inductees to the Central High School Distinguished Hall of Fame. Atwood S. Wilson was the grandfather of Kentucky Appeals Court Judge Denise Clayton. Information for this entry was submitted by Mrs. Susie M. Guess, daughter of Atwood S. Wilson. See also pp. 20-21 in Muhammad Ali. by A. O. Edmonds.

See photo image of Atwood S. Wilson at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Chemists, Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Grandparents, National Youth Administration (NYA)
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wilson, Henry S.
Birth Year : 1902
Death Year : 1988
Wilson, born in Louisville, KY, became the first African American faculty member at Bellarmine College [now Bellarmine University] in 1955, and, in 1957, the first full professor. He was a chemistry professor who had graduated from Indiana University and served as chair of the natural sciences department at Louisville Municipal College until the school was merged with the University of Louisville. Wilson worked for the Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company prior to joining Bellarmine, a Catholic college. He was the first retired faculty member in 1967. Bellarmine opened in 1950. For more see High Upon a Hill: a history of Bellarmine College, by W. Hall.
Subjects: Chemists, Education and Educators
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

 

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