Short History: Kelly Miller

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Kelly Miller was Johns Hopkins University's first black student. Kelly Miller was born July 18, 1863 in Winnsboro, South Carolina and died December 29, 1939. Kelly Miller was the sixth of ten children born to Kelly Miller, a free Negro who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and Elizabeth Miller, a slave. Miller received his early education in one of the local primary schools established during Reconstruction and was recommended to an institute by a missionary who recognized Miller's mathematical abilities. Miller attended the Fairfield Institute in Winnsboro, South Carolina from 1878 to 1880. Awarded a scholarship to Howard University, he completed the Preparatory Department's three-year curriculum in Latin, Greek, and mathematics in two years, then attended the College Department at Howard from 1882 to 1886.

Kelly Miller was a force in the intellectual life of black America for close to half a century. Miller was a mathematician, a sociologist, an essayist, and a newspaper columnist. Born in South Carolina in 1863, he worked his way through Howard University, then did postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins, the first black ever admitted to that university.

Appointed professor of mathematics at Howard in 1890, Miller introduced sociology into the curriculum in 1895, serving as professor of sociology from 1895 to 1934. As dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, he modernized the classical curriculum, strengthening the natural and social sciences.

Miller was a prolific writer whose articles appeared in the major newspapers and magazines of the day. In the 1920s and 1930s, his weekly column appeared in more than 100 newspapers. On African-American education policy, Miller aligned himself with neither the radicals - Du Bois and the Niagara Movement -- or the "conservatives" - the followers of Booker T. Washington. Miller sought a middle way, a comprehensive education system that would provide for "symmetrical development" of...
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