Dr. Walter Massey doesn't just belong on the HBCU presidents Mt. Rushmore. He belongs on the higher ed Mt. Rushmore. He does it all: Physicist and leader in humanities. The only person to ever serve as both President and Chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and as Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. Morehouse Man and President Emeritus of "Da 'House," as its called by students and alumni, and President Emeritus of School of the Art Instiute of Chicago. Former Chairman of Bank of America. Chairman of the board overseeing construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope. Man of Omega Psi Phi, and a giant among men.
In 1979, Dr. Massey became the first African-American director of the Argonne National Library at the University of Chicago. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed him as director of the National Science Foundation. Throughout his career, Dr. Massey has fought to increase the representation of women and people of color in the sciences, believing two things to be foundationally true: Science and technology are necessary to sustain the nation's quality of life and the standard of living of its citizens; and the general public's understanding of science and technology is a critical component of a democratic society.
Young Students (K3-2nd Grade)
Dr. Massey didn't let anyone paint him as "just" a physicist -- he explores all of his talents and interests to try to create a better society. How can you leverage your talents and interests to make the world around you better?
Middle Students (Grades 3-8)
Science is propelled by curiosity and a desire to find the answers to the questions we can't answer. What big questions do you have -- about the world, yourself, your school, your family -- that you don't have answers to yet? How can you find those answers?
High School Students (Grades 9-12)
Throughout his career, Dr. Massey has worked to get more women and people of color involved in the sciences, believing diverse representation in these fields will lead to a better informed society. Why do you think this idea of representation is important in a field like science? How does including voices that are normally excluded from the conversation impact research?
Dr. Massey took up physics as a discipline of study, in part, to escape the racism he faced growing up in segregated Mississippi. In science, one could set his own research agenda without having his experiences negated. But even science isn't completely Black and white, or without bias. Are you working to make sure your students see themselves represented in all course material, including math and sciences? How are you bridging gaps between science and the arts to provide students with a complete picture of the world?
About the Series
A Black Child Can was founded to create a better world for students by empowering the adults around them with the knowledge they need to advocate on their behalf. The 2022 blog series builds on this foundation, encouraging educators to participate in the discussion and reflect on the ways they're showing up for their students.