Ernest Everett Just, an African American biologist, was born on August 14, 1883 in Charleston, South Carolina to Charles Frazier Just Jr. and Mary Matthews Just, who gave birth to a stillborn child and both a boy and a girl before Just was born, making Just the youngest of three children. Sadly, however, both of his older siblings died approximately two months after he was born due to disease. His father, Charles Just Jr. died of alcoholism when Just turned four and his widowed mother was left to care for them alone. Determined, Just’s mother, Mary Matthews Just, purchased several acres of land and founded Maryville, which was known for creating “one of the first black town governments in the state and became a model for blacks throughout the United States.”
In hopes that Just would pursue a career in education, Just’s mother sent him to an all-black boarding school in Orangeburg, South Carolina when he was only thirteen. But, the poor school systems did not allow Just to reach his full potential which is why he and his mother decided that he should travel north for school. At age sixteen, Just attended Kimball Union Academy, a college preparatory high school, on scholarship. Despite adversity and being the only African American student in attendance, Just completed the four-year program in three years with the highest grades in his class of three hundred students. Following his graduation from Kimball in 1903, Just attended Dartmouth College, an institution located in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he graduated with the honor of magna cum laude in 1907. From Dartmouth, he obtained a degree in both botany and history. In 1909, he began teaching at Howard University.
Well respected at Howard University, he had the opportunity to play many roles which would include head of the Zoology Department in 1912, head of the Biology Department in 1920, professor in the School of Medicine, and head of the Physiology Department until his death in 1941. During his time...
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