History and Stuff: Percy Julian One Of The Greatest Scientists in History

Republished article written by Morticia sometime in 2019.

One of the greatest scientists/chemists who seems to be forgotten is Percy Julian. Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1899 into the Jim Crow Law era. His first interests in science was with the use of plants and figuring out how to make medicine as a teen. When he was of age for college he was accepted into DePauw University in Indiana. He was excited and thought being there he would finally get some respect and things would be better for him. But, of course when he got there he was told that African Americans were banned from living on campus. Julian eventually found a fraternity that would let him live with them...he lived in their basement and was treated like shit, and became their servant in order to have a place to live. Despite the mistreatment he earned his bachelors from DePauw University and was later accepted into Harvard and got his Masters there.

Percy Julian top left in the photo below. This was sometime in 1920 at DePauw University’s Science Club.

So because back then African Americans were not really allowed to get a PH.D especially in science – Julian went to Vienna, Austria and earned his PH.D in chemistry at the University of Vienna. While in Austria he wrote letters back home about his experience and the personal adventures and acceptance he had there. Later those letters were publicized and when he was back in America working at Howard University he was fired for those letters. He had nowhere to go and no job — but eventually he was hired by William O’brien at Glidden as head of research (Glidden was a paint manufacturer). While Julian was there he was in his lab and realized that he f***ed up and there was an accident with some soybeans. Some water got into them that was not supposed to be there --- well that was a beautiful mistake that led Julian to a new way of making steroids! Because before this accident steroids were made with horse pee haha ewwwwwww....He was involved in creating ingredients and synthesis of a bunch of shit like hormone control, pain relief, glue for plywood, arthritis treatments, birth control pills and hormones—just to name a few. Some of his U.S patents include recovery of sterols, phosphatide, creation of how to make cortisone, how to make alpha –hydroxypregnenes and 16-aminomenthyl/17- alkyltestosterone derivatives. So if you like science I would suggest learning about his research and all the shit he has contributed to the science world that is used today.

Anyhow, Percy Julian contributed so much shit to science, he has several honors, inventions and over 130 U.S patents! He was also one of the first African Americans to receive a PH.D in chemistry. He was a brilliant man!

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