Friday, February 27, 2015

A Pioneering Student in the 20th Century

Gloria Green

Graduating from Washington, DC's prestigious Dunbar High School in 1949, Gloria Green was on the path to take an unprecedented challenge.  Gloria became the second black woman to attend MIT since1905 when Marie Turner enrolled, Course IV (Architecture). Gloria's academic aspiration was also in pursuit of becoming a professional architect. After the first semester, plans for an alternative academic route became a reality. She attended a junior college, reapplied to MIT and then attended for one year. Her pioneering spirit at MIT within the class of 1954 was remarkable. The class produced a future MIT President and Chairman of the Corporation, Dr. Paul E. Gray. Dr. Gray and Gloria Green freshmen class yearbook pictures were posted side by side alphabetically. It was a special time for Gloria during that initial year in 1949, and also a historic moment as well for MIT. Gloria later married, raised a family and completed an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Stamp Honors MIT's First Black Graduate

The 38th stamp in the United States Postal Service "Black Heritage" series honors architect and educator Robert Robinson Taylor of the Class of 1892.

Courtesy of U.S. Postal Service

Nancy DuVergne Smith | MIT Alumni Association
February 12, 2015
Press Inquiries

The U.S. Postal Service honored one of MIT’s own today, issuing a stamp to honor architect and educator Robert Robinson Taylor. A member of the Class of 1892, Taylor was MIT’s first African-American graduate, and is believed to be the country’s first academically trained black architect.

Among other accomplishments, Taylor supervised the design and construction of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama — now Tuskegee University — while also overseeing the school’s programs in industrial education and the building trades.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif discussed Taylor’s contributions in remarks at today's dedication ceremony at the National Postal Museum in Washington.

“As we honor the legacy of Robert Taylor, today’s ceremony reminds us that he was a builder … not only of structures, but of communities … and an architect who designed not only a campus of national importance … but a more promising future for generations to come,” Reif said. “Robert Robinson Taylor truly represents the best of MIT.”

More about Robert Robinson Taylor and this Commemoration.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Robert Robinson Taylor

From 'Tech' to Tuskegee:
The Life of Robert Robinson Taylor

by Dr. Clarence G. Williams

Few blacks were part of the MIT community in its early years, even though founder William Barton Rogers had shown a keen interest in issues relating to race. In 1863, Rogers had praised blacks--particularly the bravery exhibited by black troops during the Civil War--and noted "the capacity of these people for knowledge and training."(1) The earliest evidence of blacks at MIT dates from the 1870s, more than a decade later, in photographs of service staff in the old drill hall and gymnasium on Boylston and Clarendon Streets in downtown Boston. "Jones' Lunch," a small cafeteria located at one end of the gym, was run by a black caterer named Jones, with the assistance of a small staff of black cooks, washers, and waiters. Evidently there were no black faculty and no black students at MIT at the time. The first black student to attend MIT appears to have been Robert Robinson Taylor, who enrolled in 1888.(2)Almost seventy more years elapsed before the first black faculty member--Joseph R. Applegate, a linguist--was hired in 1955.(3)

More about Robert Robinson Taylor at MIT Libraries.