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Black History: Special Delivery!!

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Manhattan Project

Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr:  Trailblazing Mathematician And Physicist

Black History: Special Delivery!!

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Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. (1923-2011) was a renowned African American mathematician and physicist. He worked at the University of Chicago on the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was a scientific research and development initiative to support nuclear weapons production. It was a partnership between the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In solidarity with 70 other Manhattan Project scientists, Wilkins signed Leo Szilard’s petition to President Truman. This petition sought to alert President Truman and the U.S. government of the harm that could be done by deploying the atomic bomb. However, the President nor the Secretary of War received the petition before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Wilkins, along with many other scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, was interested in how the use of atomic energy might be applied peacefully. 

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Roy L. Clay: The Godfather of Silicon Valley

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

 

Known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley”, Roy Clay, Sr. (1929 -) was born in Kinloch, Missouri. He graduated from St. Louis University, majoring in mathematics. One of the first jobs he sought after graduation was at McDonnell Aircraft. His resume did not reveal that he was black. He was called for an interview. When he arrived, he was told that there were no jobs for “professional negroes”.

He learned to do computer coding in 1956. Bill Gates was just a baby. There were no college level computer programming or computer science classes. At that time, computers were highly unstable and most could not even be counted on to function for a full day without failing. Clay joined Hewlett-Packard Computers (HP) in 1965 to help build its first computer by its co-founder David Packard. Clay’s professional profile had garnered his attention due to his work on the Manhattan Project.

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