Ami Radunskaya, Pomona College
Authors: Omayra Ortega (Sonoma State University), Edray Goins (Pomona College), Ami Radunskaya (Pomona College)
2022 AWM Research Symposium

The first decade of AWM saw some focus on African American women in mathematics. In January 1978, Pat Kenschaft and Etta Falconer organized an AWM-sponsored panel discussion at JMM on “Black Women in Mathematics.” Six of the twelve African American women holding doctorates in mathematics were on the panel: Geraldine Darden, Elayne Idowu, Eleanor G. Jones, Evelyn Roane, Dolores Spikes and Etta Falconer. Their stories were published in the September 1978 and May-June 1980 AWM Newsletters. A few later, Vivienne Malone-Mayes, the fifth African American women to receive a doctorate in mathematics, wrote an article in November-December 1988 AWM Newsletter where she outlined the history of Black women with PhDs, and contrasts the successes of White women in math with the struggles of Black women. Indeed, Malone-Mayes was a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1950s, a time when blacks could not be teaching assistants nor join their classmates for discussion at segregated cafes, and a location where topologist Robert L. Moore did his best to impede her success. “I can personally vouch,” Malone-Mayes later wrote of this experience, "that my personal isolation … was absolute and complete." In this session, we focus on the legacy of Vivienne Malone-Mayes (February 10, 1932 – June 9, 1995) in particular, and the impact of African American women within AWM in general. Malone- Mayes was the first African-American to serve on the AWM Executive Committee. There have only been ten(?) African Americans to serve on the AWM Executive Committee: Carla Cotwright-Williams (2020-present), Sylvia Bozeman (1995-1998, 2009-2012), Fern Hunt (2003-2008), Trachette Jackson (2010-2014), Dawn Lott (2006-2010), Malone-Mayes (?-?), Farrah Jackson Ward (2018-2021), Talitha Washington (2014-2018), Suzanne Weekes (2020-2021), and Talithia Williams (2016-2020). Several of these At-Large Executive Committee members will reflect on their time with AWM, and provide some insight on the future of African American women in mathematics.

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