Ernest E. Just

Another South Carolina native, Ernest Everett Just was a
biologist and science writer who advocated the study of
whole cells under normal conditions, recognizing the role of
the cell surface
in the development of organisms.
Just was born in 1883 and survived a
bout with typhoid while still young. He
went on to graduate from Dartmouth,
where he distinguished himself as a
Rufus Choate scholar and was elected
to Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to teach
at Howard University, where he and
three students founded the Omega Psi
Phi fraternity. In 1909, Just was invited
to the Marine Biology Laboratory at
Woods Hole, Mass., by University of Chicago head of zoology
Frank R. Lillie. He spent just about every one of the next 20
summers in the lab, investigating the eggs of marine invertebrates.
In 1916, Just graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of
Chicago, and continued his duties as the head of the Department of Zoology at Howard. He traveled to Europe, conducting research at prestigious institutions in Italy, Germany and
France. Just authored two books, “Basic Methods for Experiments on the Eggs of Marine Animals” and “The Biology of
the Cell Surface,” both in 1939. But he continued to be frustrated by racism in America and his difficulty finding a more
prestigious appointment at a research university.
In 1940, Just was working in France when Germany invaded.
He was imprisoned but later that year was rescued by the U.S.
State Department. In 1941, he was diagnosed with pancreatic
cancer and died that year.
Just was the subject of a book that was a finalist for the 1984
Pulitzer Prize, “Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest
Everett Just” by Kenneth R. Manning. A number of symposia and awards also bear his name, and a special issue of the
journal Molecular Reproduction and Development is dedicated
to him.

The 100 year
celebration of
the Omega Psi
Phi Fraternity,
the military
members of the


Hattie McDaniel (left) on the set of “Gone with
the Wind,” along with Olivia de Havilland
(center) and Vivien Leigh (right) in 1939.

Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel has a career so distinguished that she has two stars on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for TV
and one for radio. A singer and actress,
McDaniel was the first African-American
to win an Academy Award for her role as
Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.”
Born to former slaves, McDaniel was
born in Kansas but grew up in Colorado.
Her brother and sister also acted and
sang, and McDaniel worked on her songwriting skills with her brother’s minstrel
show. She toured and appeared on radio
shows and in films, working as a maid
or cook when she couldn’t get work
performing. McDaniel finally had a leading role in the 1934 film “Judge Priest,”
followed by “Alice Adams” in 1935, and
starring alongside Jean Harlow, Clark
Gable and Bela Lugosi in a steady drum
of other films that year.
Her best known role is in 1939’s “Gone
With the Wind,” where she starred as
the maid, Mammy, alongside Gable and
Olivia de Havilland. McDaniel earned an
Academy Award for that role at the 1940
Twelfth Academy Awards, where she sat
at a segregated table. The hotel did not
allow African-Americans, but admitted
McDaniel and an escort as a favor.
“This is one of the happiest moments of
my life, and I want to thank each one of
you who had a part in selecting me for
one of their awards, for your kindness,”
McDaniel said in her acceptance speech.
“It has made me feel very, very humble;
and I shall always hold it as a beacon for
anything that I may be able to do in the
future. I sincerely hope I shall always

be a credit to my race and to the motion
picture industry.”
McDaniel went on to play a series of
domestic workers on screen, appearing
for the last time in 1951 as the titular
character of the hit ABC series “Beulah,”
where she once again was a maid. She
died of breast cancer in 1952.
During her success on screen, McDaniel
was also one of a handful of Los Angeles
homeowners to win in the courtroom.
The case centered on African-American

homeownership in a traditionally white
upscale neighborhood of West Adams
Heights, popularly called Sugar Hill.
Sued by white homeowners, the AfricanAmericans, including McDaniel won the
right to live there.
In another twist, since McDaniel’s death,
her historic Oscar award has been missing. It was meant to have ended up at
Howard University — and did for a time
— but has since disappeared.


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