"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." ~ James Baldwin
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
P O Box 1752 Paris TX 75461 ~ 903.783.9232 ~ naacp6213@yahoo.com
Meets First Thursday of Each Month at 6:00 PM ~ 121 E Booth

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ernest Just

"The Brotherhood of Man is not so much a Christian doctrine as a fundamental biological law. For biology does not and cannot recognize any specific differences among humans. This is a fact of tremendous significance for the human family. The peace of the world lives here. And the transcendent value of science to man will be measured in just proportion to which we can realize this truth."

Ernest Everett Just was born August 14, 1883 in Charleston, South Carolina. His mother, a teacher, thought that educational opportunities for African Americans were limited in the south, and he was sent to Kimball Union Academy, a college prep boarding school in Meriden, New Hampshire. He finished the four-year program in three years, graduating as valedictorian, having served as class president, editor of the school newspaper, and president of the debate team. He then attended Dartmouth College, earning bachelor's degrees in history and biology with special honors in zoology, again as valedictorian as the only Magna Cum Laude graduate and Phi Beta Kappa member in the class.

Despite his academic achievements, the only teaching positions Just was offered were at African American colleges. In 1907 he joined the faculty of Howard University, becoming chair of the Zoology Department in 1912, and serving on the Howard Medical School faculty as head of the Physiology Department. He organized the first drama club at Howard, and with three students founded Omega Psi Phi fraternity in 1911.

Just began graduate studies as a research assistant at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and took a year's leave of absence from Howard to attend the University of Chicago, receiving a PhD in experimental embryology in 1916. He had already become known as an expert on the reproductive systems and cells of marine animals, and was awarded the NAACP's first Spingarn Medal in 1915. His work is summarized in his 1939 book The Biology of the Cell Surface.

He continued his summer research at Woods Hole until 1929 when he went to the Zoological Station in Naples, Italy. The next year he was the first American to be invited to the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, where he worked until the rise of the rise of the Nazi Party led him to relocate to Paris in 1933.  Foreigners were warned to leave the country in 1940, but he stayed to finish his current research and was placed in a prisoner of war camp after the German invasion. The U. S. State Department quickly arranged his release, and he returned to the United States. Already in ill health, he died October 27, 1941 in Washington, DC at the age of 58.

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