[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 153 (2007), Part 2]
[Pages 2639-2642]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend 
the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 34) 
honoring the life of Percy Lavon Julian, a pioneer in the field of 
organic chemistry research and development and the first and only 
African American chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of 
  The Clerk read as follows:

                            H. Con. Res. 34

       Whereas Percy Julian was born on April 11, 1899, in 
     Montgomery, Alabama, the son of a railway clerk and the first 
     member of his family to attend college, graduating from 
     DePauw University in 1920, receiving a M.S. degree from 
     Harvard University in 1923 and a Ph.D. from the University of 
     Vienna in 1931;
       Whereas in 1935 Dr. Julian became the first to discover a 
     process to synthesize physostigmine, the drug used in the 
     treatment of glaucoma;
       Whereas Dr. Julian later pioneered a commercial process to 
     synthesize cortisone from soy beans and yams, enabling the 
     widespread use of cortisone as an affordable treatment of 
       Whereas Dr. Julian was the first African American chemist 
     elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1973 for his 
     lifetime of scientific accomplishments, held over 130 patents 
     at the time of his death in 1975, and dedicated much of his 
     life to the advancement of African Americans in the sciences; 
       Whereas Dr. Julian's life story has been documented in the 
     PBS NOVA film ``Forgotten Genius'': Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate 
     concurring),  That the Congress honors the life of Percy 
     Lavon Julian, a pioneer in the field of organic chemistry 
     research and development and the first and only African 
     American chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of 

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson) and the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
Gingrey) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Texas.

                             General Leave

  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous 
consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and 
extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on House 
Concurrent Resolution 34, the resolution that is now under 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 
such time as I may consume.
  Mine is a simple concurrent resolution honoring the life of Dr. Percy 
Lavon Julian. Dr. Julian was an outstanding chemist and, as a black 
man, overcame countless obstacles to achieve international recognition 
for his scientific accomplishments.
  He spent his youth in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. When he 
decided to leave home to go to college to DePauw University in Indiana, 
his entire family came to see him off at the train station, including 
his 99-year-old grandmother, a former slave, and his grandfather who 
was also there.
  His grandfather's right hand was two fingers short. The fingers had 
been cut off for violating the code forbidding slaves to learn to read 
and write.
  At DePauw University, Julian worked in the attic of a fraternity 
house. His support and tuition came from his earnings as a waiter. 
Often he worked as a ditch digger during the day and attended classes 
in the evening.
  Though at the top of his class in college, he was discouraged from 
pursuing graduate studies because of potential racial sentiment on the 
part of future coworkers and employers.
  Madam Speaker, I firmly believe that no one should be discouraged 
from pursuing their dreams. Nancy Pelosi, our first female Speaker of 
the House, is a prime example of someone who ignored the words of 
naysayers. We must hold these people up as examples. Let them light the 
paths of others.
  Dr. Julian earned a fellowship to study chemistry at Harvard 
University, where he received his master's degree; and in 1931, he 
earned his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna.
  Dr. Julian synthesized a chemical treatment for glaucoma, and he 
synthesized cortisone for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. He is 
also noted for inventing a foam used during World War II to extinguish 
gasoline and oil; and over the course of his career, he acquired more 
than 100 patents.
  Percy Julian received wide recognition by the scientific community 
for his research and was elected into the prestigious National Academy 
of Sciences. He was a bright, talented individual who excelled in 
science in the face of overwhelming challenges.
  My bill, House Concurrent Resolution 34, honors his life. We have 12 
cosponsors, as well as partnership with the other body from the 
gentleman from Illinois. I am pleased that the leadership has chosen to 
pass a bill celebrating the success of an African American. He is a 
role model, and we want our young people to know that you can make it 
even in spite of some of the hardships that you have.
  So for future generations coming along, the minority students, I feel 
it important to uplift women and minorities to excel in math, science 
and engineering. I hope the House leadership will consider substantial 
policies to encourage more women and minorities to pursue careers in 
science, technology, engineering, and math. They need more help than 
what is currently being provided.
  But, again, I thank Chairman Gordon and my colleagues for their 
support of this resolution. It is a good start, and I hope a bellwether 
for future legislation.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GINGREY. Madam Speaker, as my good friend and colleague, 
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, has already stated, House 
Concurrent Resolution 34 honors the life of Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, a 
pioneer in organic chemistry, research and development.
  Dr. Julian identified and synthesized, and my trusty assistant had to 
tell me how to pronounce it, physostigmine. I should know that from 
medical school. Dr. Julian, though, synthesized that, and it is a drug 
used to treat glaucoma. I think we all know about glaucoma and the 
ravages of that, particularly with our elderly, more recently to 
improve memory in Alzheimer's patients and as an antidote to nerve gas.
  He also made great advances, Madam Speaker, in synthesizing the drug 
known, as we all know, as cortisone, and making it affordable treatment 
back then for arthritis, and of course, it is used for that and many 
other things today.
  In addition to his glaucoma and arthritis treatment contributions, 
Dr. Julian's impressive achievements also include the invention of a 
soy-based fire extinguishing foam used on Navy ships during World War 
II, various improvements in paints and coatings while employed with the 
Glidden Paint Company, with which he was affiliated, I think, for over 
18 years; and he developed a method to filter chemicals in soybean oil 
to mass produce hormones for medical application.
  Once again, Madam Speaker, as a retired OB/GYN physician, I know a 
little bit about the use of hormones for medical conditions.
  As an African American in the early 20th century, Dr. Julian overcame 
great adversity to succeed and to make his mark on society. The 
National Academy of Sciences recognized and honored his significant 
contributions to organic chemistry when they inducted him in 1973.

[[Page 2640]]

  Madam Speaker, I remember to this day my organic chemistry teacher at 
Georgia Tech in those 5, 6-hour labs that we had twice a week in 
addition to all the classroom work. I wish I had had the privilege of 
being taught by Dr. Julian, but Dr. Cherry was a fine professor in his 
own right.
  I encourage my colleagues to give Dr. Julian the same recognition 
today and support this resolution honoring him and his great life.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield 5 minutes 
to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Davis).
  Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman 
from Texas for yielding.
  I know all of the folks out in the Bay Area of California are indeed 
pleased and proud to see you in the Chair. They are as proud as the 
people in the neighborhood where I live are of Dr. Percy Lavon Julian 
who lived a few blocks from where I currently live.

                              {time}  1415

  Born the son of a railroad clerk and a school teacher, the grandson 
of a slave, young Percy Julian, early in his life, got ahold of Donald 
Adams' poem, ``Seven Fold,'' and its charge to ``Go Farther On'' 
reigned in his spirit.
  In academia, racial prejudice followed him like a shadow. He was 
class valedictorian in 1920 from DePauw University, but still 
discouraged from seeking admission into graduate school because of 
potential racial sentiment on the part of future coworkers.
  He got straight A's at Harvard University, graduated in 1923. But 
even with his success, Julian was unable to get a teaching job at any 
major university because of the perception that white students would 
refuse to learn under a black instructor.
  After he received a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry at the 
University of Vienna in 1931, he took a position at DePauw, his alma 
mater, where he collaborated with Dr. Josef Pikl and successfully 
created a drug which was used as a treatment for glaucoma. Although 
internationally recognized for his achievement, however, the color of 
his skin prevented him from being appointed chair of DePauw's chemistry 
  He became the chief chemist and the director of research at the 
Glidden Company in Chicago, where he created a flame retardant that 
saved countless sailors of the United States Navy during World War II.
  I might add that my brother worked at Glidden Durkee as a quality 
control director, because he somehow or another also became a chemist 
and followed in the footsteps of Dr. Julian.
  He discovered that soy sterol could be used to manufacture male and 
female hormones, progesterone and testosterone. Yet his achievements 
were not properly appreciated. He created synthetic cortisone, and his 
products led directly to the development of chemical birth control and 
medicines to suppress the immune system, crucial in performing organ 
  He was named Chicagoan of the Year in 1950. He became the first black 
to move into the prestigious Oak Park community, but his house was 
firebombed twice simply because some folk didn't want a black neighbor.
  He parlayed his genius into countless awards, has over 100 patents to 
his credit, became a millionaire in 1961, was asked to serve on 
numerous commissions and advisory boards, and yet his story is not 
taught nearly as much as it needs to be.
  Racial obstacles can be pernicious, but if we persist, like Dr. 
Julian, to ``Go Farther On,'' then we all become proud. I am proud of 
the folks in the community where I live because there are Percy Julian 
artifacts and memorabilia, schools named after him, streets named after 
him. He is an icon in the Oak Park community.
  I commend again my colleague from Texas (Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson) 
for introducing this resolution.
  Mr. GINGREY. Madam Speaker, I had one other request for time, but he 
is detained at this point. Right now, I don't have any other speakers.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes 
to Dr. Holt, the gentleman from New Jersey.
  Mr. HOLT. I thank my friend from Texas.
  Madam Speaker, we have heard about the numerous obstacles that Dr. 
Julian faced, no public high schools for African-Americans in 
Montgomery, so he had to go as a subfreshman to DePauw University, but 
his skill, his intelligence, allowed him to thrive there against the 
adversity. We have heard that a research job fell through because 
African-Americans were not allowed to stay overnight in a town in 
Wisconsin where he was going for that work.
  We have heard about his contributions: fire retardants, treatments 
for glaucoma, a low-cost process to produce cortisone. That brings us 
up to today, why we are talking about this. Of course, we want to honor 
and recognize someone of such skill and such perseverance, but we want 
to highlight it for a reason, and that reason is that even today we are 
excluding people whose talents we need.
  African-Americans constitute 14 percent or so of the U.S. population, 
but receive fewer than 4 percent of the doctorates awarded in chemistry 
and chemical engineering; hold about 1 percent, one out of 100 
chemistry faculty positions in the top universities. These distressing 
numbers are not just an indication of unfairness. They are an 
indication of the loss of talent, the loss of creativity, that we need 
in our society. So this is not just to extol the accomplishments of 
Percy Julian, but to remind us that we have to make way for these 
talented individuals in our society today.
  Mr. GINGREY. Madam Speaker, just a few words in closing. We talked 
about Engineers' Week in the previous suspension resolution. I was just 
listening to my good friend, Rush Holt, talk about the importance of 
making sure that we encourage people of color and someone like Dr. 
Julian and many more like him to get an opportunity.
  I am sure it must have been awfully difficult back in those days, and 
actually in 1961, that was when I was a student at Georgia Tech, and 
there were literally no African-American students at school. I don't 
remember any at that time, and that was just, what, 46 years ago. It is 
  But, thank God, you know, times have changed; and certainly to learn 
about Dr. Julian, I didn't know of him until my colleagues on the 
majority side, on the Science Committee, brought forward this 
  I am honored to manage for the ranking member, Mr. Hall, on this side 
of the Science Committee and to get to know more about the life of Dr. 
Percy Julian, talking about the work he did in developing and 
manufacturing a process for the production of cortisone. Madam Speaker, 
I can really appreciate him in regard to that, because just yesterday 
morning, I was lying on an operating table getting cortisone injected 
into my arthritic neck, and I feel better already. I will say, Thank 
you, Dr. Julian, for that discovery, and I appreciate it very much.
  But it is an honor to pay respect to this gentleman. I am pleased in 
a reading of his life that, unlike a lot of other people who do great 
things, and they get honored 25 years after their death, and everybody 
else seems to capitalize on their discovery, the fact that he was not 
only honored in his lifetime by the National Academy of Sciences, but 
also was able to get financial remuneration for his work in the sale of 
his company to a big pharmaceutical, I think it was Smith, Kline & 
French or one of the major pharmaceutical companies back in 1961 
purchased his company for $2.1 million. Well, that is great, and I am 
very happy that occurred and happy for him and his family.
  It is great to have these good bipartisan opportunities, Madam 
Speaker. I want to ask all of my colleagues on this side of the aisle, 
and I know all my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, to support 
this resolution.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, today I rise in strong 
support of H. Res. 34, which gives long overdue recognition

[[Page 2641]]

to a great American, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian. Dr. Julian was a brilliant 
African-American scientist, inventor, civil rights leader and an unsung 
hero. A pioneer and widely acclaimed for his work in organic chemistry, 
Dr. Percy broke the color barrier in science. During his lifetime, he 
made great strides in the field of chemistry. In 1973, he was elected 
to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his outstanding 
lifetime achievements. He received 19 honorary degrees and was awarded 
105 patents, among them a foam fire retardant, a treatment for 
glaucoma, and a low-cost process to produce cortisone.
  Born in 1899, in Montgomery, AL, the grandson of slaves, Dr. Julian 
overcame many obstacles and racism and went on to be the first member 
of his family to attend college. He was the valedictorian of his 
graduating class at DePauw University in 1920, then went on to receive 
his M.S. from Harvard University in 1923 and later getting his Ph.D. 
from the University of Vienna in 1931.
  At a time of inequality for African-Americans, Dr. Julian persevered 
and pioneered a commercial process to synthesize cortisone from soy 
beans and yams, enabling the widespread use of cortisone as an 
affordable treatment of arthritis. Dr. Julian also became the first to 
discover a process to synthesize physotigmine, the drug used in the 
treatment of glaucoma.
  Dr. Julian broke down barriers to achieve many significant firsts in 
his lifetime, one of which was becoming the first Black scientist hired 
for a high-level corporate research position as director of research at 
the Glidden Company. It was here during his 18-year tenure that he 
launched a process for the chemical synthesis of cortisone whose 
affordability promulgated its widespread use.
  Not only was Dr. Julian an esteemed scientist and innovator, he was 
also a leader in his community and a champion for civil rights. In 
1950, on Thanksgiving Day, before moving in to his new home in the 
exclusive Chicago Oak Park neighborhood, his home was firebombed. Not 
one to crumble in the face of adversity, Dr. Julian instead fought 
tirelessly for integration and went on to encourage the Human Relations 
Commission in the village government and the Oak Park Housing Center in 
Illinois towards becoming one of the most efficient systems of 
integration in the country.
  Dr. Julian's business savvy was showcased in 1954 when he left the 
Glidden Company to establish his own laboratories, Julian Laboratories. 
There he specialized in producing his synthetic cortizone and 
established Laboratorios Julian de Mexico in Mexico City and used wild 
yams in Mexico, which he found to be more effective than soy beans for 
some of his products. His business savvy was further evidenced when he 
sold the Oak Park plant to Smith, Kline, and Smith for $2.3 million, an 
astounding amount of money for anyone during that time period.
  Dr. Julian played an integral role in his Chicago community as a 
civil rights activist. He founded the National Negro Business and 
Professional Committee for the Legal Defense fund, raised funds for the 
NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dr. Martin 
Luther King, Jr.
  Many African-American pioneers and leaders, who came long before the 
civil rights movement for equality, were not recognized for the 
contributions they made to this Nation and were never thanked for 
bettering our society and contributing to humanity. Too many were 
forgotten and unrecognized for their diligence and commitment to their 
field of work and their contribution that continues to affect each and 
every one of our lives today.
  As we draw closer to the month of February and Black History month is 
recognized, let us take a moment to honor an unsung hero, let us 
declare that his memory is not forgotten. I urge my colleagues to 
support this bill and honor Dr. Julian Percy because he embodies the 
ideals that make America a great nation: pioneering spirit, hard work, 
innovation, perseverance, and dedication.
  Ms. MOORE of Wisconsin. Madam Speaker, I rise to honor the life and 
achievements of Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, the grandson of Alabama ex-
slaves who rose to become an American research chemist of international 
acclaim. Dr. Julian's son, Percy Julian Jr., works on social justice 
issues as a practicing attorney in my home state of Wisconsin.
  While working on the West Side of Chicago for the Glidden Paint 
Company, Dr. Julian worked in soybean research where he developed foam 
that put out oil and gas fires. During World War II the Navy saved many 
lives by using a foam fire extinguisher.
  He later discovered a special process to synthesize cortisone from 
soy beans and yams, allowing the widespread use of cortisone as an 
affordable treatment of arthritis.
  Dr. Julian's achievements did not come easily. Because formal 
education for African Americans in Alabama stopped at eighth grade, he 
was forced to move from Montgomery to Greencastle, Indiana where he 
attended De Paul University as a subfreshman. As a student, he worked 
as a waiter and a ditch digger in order to pay his tuition and make 
ends meet. During the night he laid the groundwork for his future 
discoveries by devoting his energies to study of chemistry.
  Dr. Julian's perseverance and determination paid off and, in 1920, he 
graduated from DePaul University in Indiana at the head of his class 
and was honored as Phi Beta Kappa orator and valedictorian. In 1923, he 
earned his master's degree from Harvard University, again in the top 
group of his class.
  Madam Speaker, Dr. Julian also overcame adversity in his private 
life. His home in the all-white neighborhood of Oak Park in Chicago was 
firebombed. He refused to move from the area, determined to break down 
the walls of segregation around him. An activist for civil rights he 
composed and delivered numerous speeches in an effort to bring about 
equality for African-Americans.
  It is a true honor to support this resolution, H. Con. Res. 34, which 
honors the life of Dr. Percy Lavon Julian and recognizes his incredible 
  Mr. LEWIS of Georgia. Madam Speaker, today we honor one of the most 
accomplished scientists of the twentieth century; a man who would not 
be deterred by racial bias. Today we honor the life and research of Dr. 
Percy Julian.
  Dr. Julian worked tirelessly, and won acclaim for his work in organic 
chemistry. A brilliant chemist, Dr. Julian developed a treatment for 
glaucoma, a new process to produce cortisone, and a fire retardant used 
by the US Navy, which saved countless American lives during World War 
II. Throughout his distinguished career Dr. Julian was awarded an 
impressive 105 patents. His many scientific accomplishments led to his 
election as a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in 
  Dr. Percy's contribution to the study of science is remarkable, yet 
we cannot forget the racial barriers that Dr. Julian was able to 
overcome. Born the grandson of Alabama slaves, Dr. Julian was a civil 
rights pioneer. Dr. Julian was forced to fight through racial prejudice 
and intimidation to establish himself as a pre-eminent chemist. Let us 
not forget, as the first African-American family to live in the Chicago 
suburb of Oak Park, the Julian house was fire-bombed in 1950. And 
again, on June 12, 1951, the Julian house was attacked, this time with 
dynamite. Yet, through it all, we should not forget the courage he 
displayed and his perseverance.
  We, as a nation, owe much to Percy Julian and it is a privilege to 
honor him today.
  Mr. RANGEL. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Con. Res. 
34, to honor Percy Julian, an American research chemist of 
international renown, and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of 
medicinal drugs. During his lifetime, Percy Julian received more than 
100 chemical patents.
  Percy Julian attended elementary school in Birmingham and later moved 
to Montgomery, Alabama where he attended high school. After high 
school, Julian applied to and was accepted into DePauw University in 
Greencastle, Indiana. At DePauw, he began as a probationary student, 
having to take higher level high school classes along with his freshman 
and sophomore course load. He was named a member of the Sigma Xi 
honorary society as well as a Phi Beta Kappa member.
  Upon graduation from DePauw in 1920, he was selected as the class 
valedictorian. Julian was awarded the Austin Fellowship in Chemistry 
and moved to the distinguished Harvard University in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, where he achieved straight A's, finished at the top of 
his class and received a Masters Degree in 1923.
  Percy Julian proved himself to be a brilliant chemist. Among his many 
patents, most notable are--a foam fire retardant, a treatment for 
glaucoma and a low-cost process to produce cortisone. His innovative 
approach to chemistry helped to make important medicines more 
accessible to millions.
  Please join me in supporting H. Con. Res. 34, honoring the life of 
Percy Lavon Julian, a pioneer in the field of organic chemistry 
research and development and the first and only African American 
chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.
  Mr. GINGREY. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I have no further 
requests for time, and I urge support of this resolution.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Lee). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentlewoman from Texas

[[Page 2642]]

(Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson) that the House suspend the rules and agree 
to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 34.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of 
those voting have responded in the affirmative.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, on that I demand 
the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the 
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this question will 
be postponed.