[Congressional Record Volume 144, Number 31 (Thursday, March 19, 1998)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E424-E425]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


   TRIBUTE TO DR. SAMUEL P. MASSIE--MENTOR, LEADER, AND TOP SCIENTIST

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                        HON. WILLIAM (BILL) CLAY

                              of missouri

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, March 19, 1998

  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to my friend, and 
internationally renowned scientist, Dr. Samuel P. Massie, who was 
recently added to the list of the ``World's Most Distinguished 
Chemists.'' I have had the privilege of knowing Sam for a great number 
of years and know that he is quite deserving of this great honor.
  In this era of science and high-technology, Dr. Samuel P. Massie is 
the perfect role model for aspiring scientists of all races, but 
particularly for African-Americans. His life is an example of the great 
things they can accomplish and the impact they can have on the 
sciences. His contributions helped to change the course of science and 
to advance the discipline to its current priority status on the 
national agenda. His work has earned him world acclaim, and the 
honorable titles of Master Teacher and Scientist Extraordinare.
  I recommend to our colleagues Dr. Samuel P. Massie's story, as 
reported in a February 26, 1998 Washington Post article titled ``Living 
Out A Formula for Success: Academy's First Black Professor Is Among 
Top-Rated Chemists.'' It is my hope that they will share this wonderful 
piece with the future leaders of America.

               [From the Washington Post, Feb. 26, 1998]

 Living Out a Formula for Success--Academy's First Black Professor Is 
                        Among Top-Rated Chemists

                          (By Amy Argetsinger)

       On a new roster of the world's most distinguished 
     chemists--Madame Curie, Linus Pauling, big names like that--
     there are only three black scientists.
       One is the famed agricultural scientist George Washington 
     Carver, who a century ago transformed the economy of the 
     South by developing new industrial uses for sweet potatoes 
     and peanuts. Another is Percy Julian, a pioneering chemist.
       And the third is the only one still alive--Samuel P. 
     Massie, professor emeritus at the U.S. Naval Academy.
       Though proud to be named to an elite industry list of the 
     all-time top 75 distinguished contributors to the field of 
     chemistry, Massie, now 78, welcomed the news with the breezy 
     modesty that has marked a lifetime of remarkable 
     achievements, one that gave him key vantage points to both 
     the development of the atomic bomb and the civil rights 
     turmoil of the 1960s.
       ``You do what you can do in that regard,'' the Laurel 
     resident said.
       A pioneer in silicon studies and the Naval Academy's first 
     black professor, Massie is one of only 32 living scientists 
     on the list compiled last month by Chemical and Engineering 
     News to mark the magazine's 75th anniversary. The list 
     includes 35 Nobel Prize winners and celebrated names like 
     Kodak founder George Eastman, DNA researchers James Watson 
     and Francis Crick, and plutonium discoverer, Glenn Seaborg.
       Born in North Little Rock, Ark., Massie rushed through 
     school, graduating at age 13. As a young child, he got a head 
     start on his peers by following his schoolteacher mother 
     around from class to class, enabling him to skip grades three 
     years in a row. Today, his personal experience has left him a 
     believer in classrooms blending multiple grade levels.
       ``Young children don't all learn at the same rate,'' he 
     said.
       Attending A.M.N. College--now the University of Arkansas at 
     Pine Bluff--Massie was drawn to chemistry studies after 
     becoming fixated on finding a cure for his father's asthma. 
     After graduating at age 18, he launched into graduate studies 
     at Fisk University and Iowa State University, where he worked 
     on the Manhattan Project team, trying to convert uranium 
     isotopes to a usable form for the atomic bomb.
       After working as a teacher at Fisk University and Howard 
     University, Massie was named president of North Carolina 
     College in 1963, as the civil rights movement was taking hold 
     in the region.
       ``Kids marching around the place, waving signs, singing `We 
     Shall Overcome,' '' Massie recalled. ``They were fun times.''
       Massie was hired by the Naval Academy in 1966--a time when 
     Annapolis was still so segregated that he and his wife, 
     Gloria, now a psychology professor retired from Bowie State 
     University, were unable to find a home they wanted. Real 
     estate agents wouldn't even take them to certain exclusive 
     neighborhoods.
       But Massie said he was unruffled by his introduction to the 
     military college, where the vast majority of students were 
     white in the mid-1960s.
       ``It wasn't difficult for me because I understood 
     chemistry,'' he said. ``I just had to make sure we understood 
     each other.''
       While at the academy, Massie pursued research into anti-
     bacterial agents, and with some colleagues and midshipmen 
     students was awarded a patent for a chemical effective in 
     fighting gonorrhea. He also conducted

[[Page E425]]

     environmental research at the Navy's David Taylor Research 
     Center outside Annapolis, studying chemicals to prevent the 
     growth of barnacles on ship hulls and developing protective 
     foams to guard against nerve gases.
       Massie said he found the academy, with its stringent 
     admission standards and emphasis on technical education, a 
     luxurious teaching environment.
       ``Scholarship is emphasized here--you knew you could expect 
     certain things of your students,'' he said. ``You had enough 
     money to have the proper equipment, and students could afford 
     all their books,'' unlike students at some of the civilian 
     colleges where he taught.
       Massie said midshipmen were sometimes baffled by his 
     unorthodox way of scoring exams--two points for each question 
     they got right, but 50 points subtracted for each one they 
     got wrong. He was trying to prove a point to them:
       ``Everything in life doesn't have the same value,'' he 
     said. ``It depends on the circumstances.''

     

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