In the US, the African American scholar (and February 1st Google doodle subject) Carter G Woodson began working in 1926 to establish “Negro History Week“, for in Woodson’s day the contributions of Black people were “overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.” Woodson’s Negro History week evolved into today’s US Black History Month thanks to the efforts of student activists of the 1970s.
My partner, Dr Gayatri Sethi, reminds me that the aspiration of marginalized and minoritized peoples to be heard, to enter into equity in whatever place they call home is universal.
With that in mind, it is no surprise then that Black History month has been celebrated in the UK for the last 30 years in October. This October a group of mathematicians at University College London —Sean Jamshidi, Nikoleta Kalaydzhieva and Rafael Prieto Curiel — decided to make October Black Mathematicians month.
During the month they presented interviews with UK mathematicians starting with Dr Nazar Miheisi who does research in Analysis at King’s College. The Aperiodical blog also ran pieces highlighting Black mathematicians, among them Dr Caleb Ashley who gives this Numberphile segment on the fifth postulate.
Building an equitable mathematics community, or better yet an equitable world, should not be confined to a single month — it is an undertaking that will require continuous and deliberate effort. But it is encouraging and inspiring to see many hopeful signs on a global scale.
Do you know of similar efforts in other countries to encourage the participation of marginalized peoples in science and mathematics? If so, please leave a comment or drop an email!