Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Figures in Black History #8


Dr. Ernest E Just was born on August 14, 1883 in South Carolina. His paternal grandfather was a prominent member of Charleston’s free black community before the Civil War.
Just received his teaching degree from South Carolina College at the age of 16 and went on to Kimball Academy in New Hampshire and then to Dartmouth University. He graduated magna cum laude, won every prize there was in sociology, history, botany and zoology and was the only black man in his graduating class of 287, in 1907. After graduating Dartmouth he was offered a teaching job as an English professor at Howard University and appointed instructor of biology before establishing and becoming the head of Howard’s Zoology Department, where he taught for 34 years. He obtained is PhD in 1916 from the University of Chicago.
Dr. Just specialized in marine biology and was the first person awarded the highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, by the NAACP.
Dr. Just died of pancreatic cancer in October of 1941, at the age of 53.
In 1996, 55 years after his death, he was also honored with a U.S. Black Heritage Stamp (shown above).