Changing the Equation -- Meet 3 of the Mathematicians from this book #blacklivesmatter

Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today we are continuing with our Black Lives Matter Series. In doing my research for Mary Eliza Mahoney I stumbled across Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden. I was able to get a digital review copy of it. And WOW!! It is full of names some you probably heard of and others that you have not. These women are doctors, nurses, engineers, computer programmers/coders, mathematicians, scientists and so much more. I knew I had to share this book with you as quickly as I could. I wanted to make it even more meaningful to be part of our Black Lives Matter Series so I am going to review the book and share about three of the amazing women in the book and of course I picked the mathematicians. After all they are my sisters from my past life. 

This book shares about the lives and accomplishments of over 50 American Black women all with careers in STEM fields. It starts with the first doctor, Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, and goes into a roboticist, Ayanna Howard, and so many more. Some of the women's lives are shared in several pages and some are only a page with the key points emphasized. Each woman has a story and has accomplishments that are important for us to know and share. 
The life stories are easy to read and fun to learn about. The book is recommended for ages 10 to 14 and that seems pretty appropriate but some younger kids may also enjoy it. 

One of the things I love is it includes women with careers that most kids won't have heard of like veterinary microbiologist or neonatologist.  This book not only introduces amazing black women but also introduces STEM careers that kids and especially the girls have not heard of or even considered. The lives of these women are so interesting and it is wonderful to learn what lead them down this road. Today I am going to share about three of the women in the book. I picked the three mathematicians because I love math!! I did teach it at one point in my life. And I'm very excited because I had only heard of one of these great women. I also learned that the Greek word mathēmatikós means "fond of learning." That seems perfect to me!

Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes
Photo source
Now Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes was one of the people that only had one page in the book. I thought I would start by sharing that with you.

Born on September 11, 1890 as Martha Euphemia Lofton in Washington, D. C. She barely ever used Martha as her name. Her father was a black dentist and her mother was very involved with the Catholic Church. She graduated from M. St. High School in 1907 and Miner Normal School in 1909. Then she went to Smith College and got her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. She married her childhood friend Harold Appo Haynes.

In 1930 she earned a Master’s in education at the University of Chicago.  She founded the Mathematics Department at the Miner Teachers College (later called the University of the District of Columbia). She remained the head of the department for 30 years. In 1943 she earned a PhD in mathematics from Catholic University of America. She was the first American black woman to earn a PhD in mathematics.

She taught at many of DC’s schools including Armstrong High School, Miner Norman School and Dunbar High School. And taught mathematics at the District of Columbia Teachers College and was head of the Mathematics and Business Education Division.  

She retired in 1959 as the head of the mathematics department at today’s University of the District of Columbia. She then spent her time and energy on causes and charities. Many of which were run by the Catholic Church. She co-founded the Catholic Interracial Council of the District of Columbia. In 1959 she received a papal medal. In 1966 she joined the District of Columbia’s Board of Education where she continued to fight the racial injustice and segregation.  She was the first woman to chair the DC School Board.

She died on July 25, 1980 in Washington D.C. She left $700,000 to Catholic University of America. They endowed a chair and set up a student loan fund in their education department.


Angie Lena Turner King
Photo Source
Before I start I want to tell you the book does an amazing job giving the information about Angie. I found the story shared of her life so interesting. 

Angie Lena Turner was born on December 9, 1905, in Elkhorn, West Virginia. She was the granddaughter of enslaved people. She was the eldest child of William and Laura Turner. She had two siblings. Her mother died when she was 8 and her father died in a coal mining accident. Angie remembers sleeping in a cabin where if it snowed at night she would wake up with snow on her bed. She went to live with her light-colored grandmother who despised Angie's dark skin and called her black b-- (rhymes with witch). Later she lived with her grandfather and attended school. She graduated high school at age 14. She had good grades. 

She began to study to become a teacher. She attended Bluefield Colored Institute (now Bluefield State College) and then transferred to West Virginia State College. She worked to pay her way through college. In 1927 she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Chemistry. She taught at a teacher training high school for 8 years then became associate professor at West Virginia State College (now University). She continued her education and got her Master of Science in Chemistry from Cornell University in 1931.

In 1946 Angie married Robert Elemore King. They had five daughters together. Angie went further with her education and in 1955 earned her doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh. Angie spent her entire collegiate teaching career teaching at West Virginia State College. She retired in 1980. She continued to live in her on-campus house until she died on February 24, 2004. 

During her career Angie taught many people and influenced many. One such person was Katherine Johnson, who became famous from the book and movie, Hidden Figures. Katherine cited Angie as a major influence in her life. Angie also taught Jasper Brown Jeffries who went on to work on the Manhattan Project in World War II. During World War II Angie taught chemistry to soldiers in the Special Army Training Program at West Virginia State College. It was a segregated program and West Virginia State College was one of six black colleges that was awarded with a unit in the program. She also taught entomologist and civil rights advocate Margaret Collins. 

The life of Angie Lena Turner King was spent teaching and mentoring the young minds in our world. Although she did not do something huge that we remember her by she influenced people who changed the world and considered her one of their greatest teachers and role models. 


Annie Easley

NASA Public Domain (Source)
Our final mathematician for today is Annie Easley. She is the only one of the three I had heard of previously. In fact I shared a small bit about her previously due to some math books with the main character named after her. 

Annie Jean Easley was born on April 23, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents were Samuel and Mary Easley. She lived in Birmingham until she left for college at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She originally was going to study nursing but changed to pharmacy. 

In 1954 she left college and returned home to Birmingham. She registered to vote and had to pay the poll tax and take a test on Alabama history and literacy. She used her college education to help others pass the test and be able to vote. She married a man in the United States military while there and became a substitute teacher in Jefferson County, Alabama. Then they moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where her husband was from. Once they arrived in Cleveland she discovered the only pharmacy school nearby was closed. She read in the newspaper about a pair of twin sisters who were human computers for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (which is now known as NASA). (Katherine Johnson also worked as a human computer for NACA.) She thought she could do it. Even without a college degree she was hired. She had the mind for the work and even expanded her own talents as computers were introduced. She learned quickly how to become a programmer and continued working for NASA.
Annie Easley at work at NASA Source

When she was hired Annie was one of four black employees at the lab. Some of her earliest work was running simulations in the Plum Brook Reactor Facility. Her most famous work was working on the programming of the Centaur rocket. The Centaur rocket helped launch the Surveyor 1 on the moon as well as the Cassini Probe on Saturn. 

In the 1970's Annie returned to college. In 1977 she earned a degree in mathematics at Cleveland State. She earned this degree while working full time at NASA. Annie experienced some racism in her career. Later in her career she took on the additional role of equal employment opportunity counselor at NASA. She helped supervisors address complaints of gender, race and age discrimination. Her work also paved the way for women's rights at NASA. She was a founding member of NASA's ski club, and active in many of the different groups at NASA. She retired in 1989 and passed away on June 25, 2011. 


I hope you will check out Changing the Equation and learn about all the other amazing women featured in it. Then join us next Monday for our next Black Lives Matter post.