Official National Society of Black Physicists webpage

new NSBP has published a poster and a book. They each have the title

"The African American Presence in Physics"

for information write to Dr. Ronald Mickens, Clark Atlanta University, Box 172, Atanta GA 30314

NSBP members are encouraged to send their updated work addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses to Dr. Vincent Rodgers at

Inquiries concerning NSBP should be sent to Dr. Sekazi Mtingwa, NSBP Office Manager, Department of Physics, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC, 27411-1086. The telephone and fax numbers are (910) 334-7646 and 334-7283, respectively.


Brief History of NSBP

The first meeting of African-American physicists was held in 1973 at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The purpose was to honor three outstanding African- American physicists: Dr. Donald Edwards, Dr. John McNeil Hunter, and Dr. Halson V. Eagleson. Dr. Edwards received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in X-Ray diffraction crystallography and was the founding Chair of the Department of Physics at North Carolina A&T State University . Dr. Hunter received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and previously served as the Chair of the Department of Physics at Virginia State University. And Dr. Eagleson received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Acoustics and was Professor of Physics at Howard University. Included among those in attendance at that first African-American physicists meeting were Dr. Ronald Mickens, currently Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Physics at Clark Atlanta University; Dr. James Young, Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. James Davenport, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at Virginia State University, Petersburg; Dr. Harry Morrison, Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley; and some forty other African-American Ph.D. physicists.

Out of a need to address many of the important issues of concern for African- American physicists, the present organization, the National Society of Black Physicists, was established in 1977 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. The first elected leaders of the organization were designated as Co-Chairs, and they were Dr. Walter Massey, then Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Physics at Brown University, and Dr. James Davenport, then and still currently Chair of the Department of Physics at Virginia State University.

Dr. Davenport is well-known to generations of physics students across the nation as a result of his having served since 1974 as the Resident Faculty Coordinator of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's Summer Internship Program for Undergraduate Students.

Dr. Massey went on to become one of the country's leading science administrators. He successfully served as Director of Argonne National Laboratory from the late 70's through the middle 80's during a period of severe budget constraints. Following his tenure as Argonne's Director, he served as Vice-President for Research at the University of Chicago with Argonne National Laboratory being under his supervision via the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) contract with the University of Chicago to run that laboratory. Subsequently, Dr. Massey served as the Director of the National Science Foundation under President George Bush. Following that appointment, he served as Senior Vice-President and Provost of the University of California System. And presently, Dr. Massey is serving as the President of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Not long after 1977, a Constitution and Bylaws were written which called for the election to two-year terms of the following officers: President, President-Elect/Past- President, Treasurer, Administrative Executive Officer, and Technical Executive Officer. Many outstanding physicists have served as President through the years, including Drs. Shirley Jackson, Milton Slaughter, Ernest Coleman, Joseph Johnson, Jr., Kennedy Reed, and Sylvester James Gates. Dr. Jackson was a condensed matter theorist at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey from 1980-1991, after which she became Professor of Physics at Rutgers University. Presently, she is the Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Dr. Slaughter worked as a theoretical physicist for many years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, with a major interest in high energy physics. Presently, he is Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of New Orleans. Unfortunately, Dr. Coleman passed away in 1990; however, before his death he was at one time Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Minnesota and later served as Senior Physicist in the Office of High Energy and Nuclear Physics at DOE. It was Dr. Coleman who proposed the Summer Science Program at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and which continues to the present day, and he served as the Director of that program from 1971-1984. Dr. Johnson is presently Distinguished Professor of Physics and Mechanical Engineering at Florida A&M University and is the Director of their NASA funded Research Center for Nonlinear and Nonequilibrium AeroScience. Dr. Reed has worked for many years as a theoretical atomic physicist for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Dr. Gates was at one time Chair of the Department of Physics at Howard University and is now Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park with research interests in supersymmetry and string theory. Starting March 1996, Dr. Lonzy Lewis, Chair of the Department of Physics at Clark Atlanta University, will begin his tenure as President. During Dr. Sekazi Mtingwa's tenure as President from 1992-1994, the legal structure of the organization was put into place: the Constitution and Bylaws were amended to establish a Board of Directors, the first national office was established in the Department of Physics at North Carolina A&T State University, NSBP was incorporated in the State of North Carolina as a nonprofit organization, and the organization received state and federal tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3. Thus, financial contributions to NSBP became tax-deductible.

Today, NSBP is the largest and most recognizable organization devoted to the African-American physics community. Its membership numbers in excess of one hundred professionals and students. The purpose of NSBP is to promote the professional well- being of African-American physicists within the scientific community and within society at large. The organization seeks to develop and support efforts to increase opportunities for African Americans in physics and to increase their numbers. It also seeks to develop activities and programs that highlight and enhance the benefits of the contributions that African American physicists provide for the world community. Among its many annual activities are the following: naming a Science Ambassador (Conceived by Dr. Lonzy Lewis in 1992, Dr. Sekazi Mtingwa has served in this capacity for the past four years.) to give lectures to elementary, middle, high school, and university students encouraging them to pursue careers in science, engineering, and mathematics, with a special emphasis on physics; awarding two $5,000 per year undergraduate scholarships jointly with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory; awarding a $500 Outstanding Graduate Student Dissertation Award; honoring an eminent African-American physicist with an Outstanding Career Achievement Award; inducting one or two physicists into the NSBP Society of Fellows for outstanding contributions to NSBP, physics research, and/or physics education. In addition, Dr. Vincent Rodgers of the University of Iowa has continued to compile electronic mail addresses of physics professionals and students, including our membership. Dr. Rodgers routinely disseminates news items and job announcements via e-mail. Regular Membership in NSBP is open to those physicists from all ethnic groups who affirm the goals of the organization. Nonphysicists who support the goals of the organization also are welcomed as Associate Members. Moreover, increasing the number of Student Members is not only encouraged, but has been set as one of the highest priorities of NSBP. This is principally done via the establishment of Local Chapters in various metropolitan areas around the country, whereby the Local Chapters are headquartered at a local college or university. Presently, Local Chapters exist in Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles, California; Greensboro, North Carolina; Grambling, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Nashville, Tennessee. And more Local Chapters are forming. Notable among Local Chapter activities are the following: providing tutorial services for physics and math courses, holding computer workshops, sponsoring various kinds of joint student/faculty events, composing directories of local physicists and contacting those who could serve as mentors and employers of area physics students, facilitating students' attendance at various national scientific meetings, including the raising of funds for that purpose, and hosting receptions to honor those receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics. The annual dues for Regular, Associate, Student, and Corporate Members are $45, $45, $15, and $2,500, respectively.

The single biggest event for the entire membership of NSBP is the Annual Conference. The Annual Conference provides a mechanism for African-American physicists to meet at least once each year to discuss physics, exchange insights on the overall state of the discipline, and develop a network for student support and encouragement. Furthermore, the meeting provides a unique opportunity to introduce students to a homogeneously supportive professional society. The membership is keenly aware that the number of working African-American physicists is small. In fact, the pool of students studying physics is not as large as it should be. This situation has sparked an informal network to develop at the yearly meetings, whereby graduate and undergraduate students are provided academic and informational support and encouragement. Previous Annual Conferences have been held at a diverse set of institutions, including several Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Stanford University, Rutgers University (Newark), the City College of New York, the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF), and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Under years of able leadership, the National Society of Black Physicists has developed into a truly viable organization with a mission which strongly supports our country's leadership role in science and technology.


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State University of New York at Buffalo

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