Remembering The Life And Times Of Renowned Scholar Kelly Miller

Written by Rewindingblack

by John Thairu

Political activist, mathematician and thinker Kelly Miller was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina on July 23, 1863. He one of many African Americans that sought educational opportunities just after the Civil War.  He managed to enrol at Washington D.C’s Howard University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1886. During his time at the University, Miller also served as a US Pensions Office clerk.

A year after graduation, Miller made history as the first ever graduate student to enrol at the Johns Hopkins University where he decided to pursue physics and mathematics.  Due to an increase in the fees at the institution Miller found it difficult to keep up the payments and had to drop out before finishing his graduate studies. He became a student of mathematician Edgar Frisby for a while and thereafter taught math at a high school and later lectured at Howard University for about 5 years. While lecturing he enrolled as a graduate student at the same university and managed to earn an M.A in 1901 as well as an LL.B in 1903.

In 1897 Miller was one of the founding members of the first formal organization of black intellects which was known as the American Negro Academy. Just like many other intellectuals of his generation, Miller felt that it was important to study social sciences as a way of assessing the status of African Americans and charting the way forward.  He was instrumental in the organization of social sciences department at Howard where he served as a sociology professor between 1895 and 1934.

Miller also played a major role in the publishing of ‘Crisis’ which was the NAACP’s magazine,  offering his services an editor and active contributor.

After serving at Howard for more than 50 years Kelly Miller retired in 1931.

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