Percy Lavon Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama. His father was James Sumner Julian and his mother was Elizabeth Lena Julian. He grew up in the time of Jim Crow. During this period of time those of color were victims of violence, discrimination, and poverty, but some of those worked to challenge segregation in the South.
Percy graduated from DePauw in 1920 (Phi Beta Kappa) and valedictorian.
After graduating, He became a chemistry instructor at Fisk University.
Received an Austin Fellowship in Chemistry and went to Harvard University in 1923 for his M.S. Except, Worried that white students would resent being taught by an African American, Harvard withdrew Julian's teaching assistantship. He was unable to complete his PhD at Harvard.
Managed to earn his PhD in 1931 at the University of Vienna.
Julian was one of the first African Americans to receive a PhD in chemistry. (Second African American to get a masters degree in chemistry)
During his lifetime, He earned more than 138 chemical patents for his work.
He married Anna Roselle Johnson and they both had two children: Percy Lavon Julian Jr. (who became a civil rights lawyer) and Faith Roselle Julian (Who is still alive and often makes moving speeches about her father and his contributions to science.) In 1954, Julian began to establish Julian Laboratories which specialized in producing his synthetic cortisone. When he discovered...