Meet Dr. Angie Turner King, one of the first African-American women to gain degrees in chemistry and mathematics, and a PhD in mathematics education.

Meet Dr. Angie Turner King, one of the first African-American women to gain degrees in chemistry and mathematics, and a PhD in mathematics education.

Angie Lena (née Turner) King was born in 1905 in Elkhorn, West Virginia, a segregated coal mining community.She was the grandchild of slaves, living for a time with her grandmother after her mother died when King was just eight, and her father died in a coal mining accident. She recalled sleeping in a cabin, where “in the winter time, when it would snow, I’d wake up with snow on my bed”, and her lighter-skinned grandmother calling her “the black bitch”: “I had it tough but it hasn’t bothered my mind”. Later, she lived with her grandfather, and was then able to attend school.

She had good grades, graduating from high school at 14 (in 1919), but was unaware that scholarships to college were a possibility. King began teaching training at Bluefield Colored Institute (now Bluefield State College), transferring to West Virginia State College. She paid her way through school waiting tables and washing dishes. She was awarded a Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, in mathematics and chemistry in 1927, with a thesis reporting on her studies on solutions of tannic acid and hydrous ferric oxide.

Katherine Johnson is her most well-known former student and mentoree, but she was also very important in the life of Margaret Collins, the entomologist and civil rights advocate.

She made an enormous difference in many lives, Dr. King was a devoted wife and mother, raising five daughters. She lived on the WVS campus until her death in 2004.

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