Multicultural Issues

 


     Beauregard Stubblefield, an African American living in a time when blacks were not
considered equal, rose above all racial barriers to achieve great success. Beauregard's
determination to pursue a career in mathematics never subsided. He would go on to
overcome great obstacles, such as fighting for the right to be educated as well as working
to pay his way through college. He has, as a result of his hard work and dedication,
become a great contributor to the world of mathematics.


     Stubblefield's devotion of achieving a higher mathematical status would not be easy. During
high school, Stubblefield was given a scholarship to Prairie View College, only to have it
taken away and given to another student soon afterward (transcript, 5). Stubblefield's
dedication would pay off, and in 1943 he received a bachelor's degree and a master's
degree in 1945 from Prairie View University in Texas. But looking for graduate work in Texas
would prove to be unsuccessful. Because the state of Texas did not offer him the graduate
work he wanted, they would have to pay for his studies at the college of his choice
(transcript, 2). Stubblefield, as a result, sent in applications to four schools: Columbia,
Chicago, Michigan, and the University of Southern California. After being told by the
University in California that, "they did not take anybody but their own students, " and
never receiving a reply from the other three schools, Beauregard took things into his own
hands. Because Stubblefield was determined to go to the University of Michigan, he
decided to drive to the campus to find out why he did not receive an answer. Surprised
as to the boldness of this man, the University of Michigan felt as if they could not turn him
down. As a result, Beauregard Stubblefield became a student of Samuel Myers, a top
mathematician at the university (transcript, 17). Soon afterward, the dean of students
ruled that Beauregard was not a resident of Michigan because of the money he was
receiving from Texas. Stubblefield would have to choose whether or not he would keep
receiving the money from Texas, and as a result pay more tuition (transcript, 24).


     Stubblefield continued to surprise people with his mathematical abilities, and in 1959,
Stubblefield attended his first Society meeting under the recommendation of one of his
professors. He would speak on his solution to one of R.H. Bing's problems, who was also
in attendance at the meeting. R.H. Bing at first did not believe that Stubblefield had
actually solved his problem, but after he and Stubblefield sat down and talked about his
solution, Bing realized, but did not admit that this talented young man had come up with
a solution (transcript, 8).


     While at Michigan, Stubblefield became very close to a lady from Liberia named
Louise Austin (transcript, 12). She would eventually help him to get a position as the head
of the department of mathematics at the University of Liberia from 1952-1956. This would
be Stubblefield's first real teaching experience (transcript, 13). Fifteen years later, he would
move to Boone, North Carolina to teach at Appalachian State University. Bob Richardson,
a professor at Appalachian, talks about discrimation towards blacks at this time and
Beauregard Stubblefield whom he knew personally. In 1966, Dr. Richardson helped in
bringing the first black girl to Appalachian State University. He talks about how when she
went to look for housing, all she got told was that the apartments were already promised
or filled. "Stubblefield probably would have encountered the same thing, "Richardson says.
The university knowing this, decided to put Beauregard in faculty housing (interview). He
would stay here five years, continuing his research on "number theory in search for lower
bounds for odd perfect numbers (transcript, 14)."