Oral history interview with Gloria L. Anderson

Oral history interview with Gloria L. Anderson

  • 2009-Aug-21

Gloria L. Anderson was born and raised in Altheimer, Arkansas, and had five brothers. Her father was a farmer and then a janitor; her mother a domestic worker and a creative seamstress. Anderson was always good in school, even skipping grades, yet she had to attend segregated schools, literally just down the road from the origin of Brown v. Board of Education. Her high school was called Altheimer Training School; the one for white students was called Altheimer High School.

Anderson attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N) on scholarship; she was valedictorian of her class (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was her commencement speaker and stands beside her in a photo). Although she thought she did not want to teach, she took a job teaching the seventh grade in an Altheimer school, leaving after a year to accept a teaching assistantship at Atlanta University. There, with Kimuel Huggins and Henry McBay as mentors, she wrote a master’s thesis in butadiene chemistry. During this time she also married. After a year of teaching at South Carolina State College and two at Morehouse College Anderson was accepted into the doctoral program at the University of Chicago. She studied fluorine, using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), in Leon Stock’s lab. She had no study group and little help, teaching herself first the fluorine-19 NMR and then other types. She was friends with Thomas Cole, a fellow student who later became president of Clark Atlanta University.

Having obtained her PhD, Anderson became associate professor and chair of the department of chemistry at Morris Brown College. In that position she struggled with the National Science Foundation and other organizations to get equipment and funding for the school. She was offered the Fuller E. Callaway Chair, which she held until she became Dean of Academic Affairs, and which she resumed when she went back to teaching. She continued her research into fluorine-19, and began studying amantadines as potential antivirals; she often paid for her own research and patents. Twice she was interim president of Morris Brown; she laments the college’s current unaccredited status, the loss due to a former president’s fraud.

In addition to her work for the College, Anderson has been a board member and Vice Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; she served also on two task forces, one for minorities and one for women in public television. She worked on boards of Georgia and Atlanta Public Broadcasting, as well as many others, and she has been on an advisory committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Throughout her long career, she has won and received numerous honors.

Throughout the interview Anderson discusses the politics of being a woman in a man’s world and of being black in a white world. She found her inspiration in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and has spent her professional life trying to make things better and easier for the less-advantaged. Anderson’s advice to young women considering chemistry as a career is: you must love chemistry; you must be committed; and you must prove yourself over and over.

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Interviewer
Place of interview
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Extent
  • 47 pages
  • 2 h 31 m 41 s
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Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
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  • Science History Institute
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  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

Jeannette E. Brown has a research MS degree from the University of Minnesota and a BS degree in the Field of Chemistry from Hunter College. She started her industrial career at CIBA Pharmaceutical Co. as a junior chemist, working there for eleven years, and she held the position of Research Chemist at Merck & Co. Inc. for 25 years. Brown is a former Faculty Associate in the department of Pre-College Programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, holding the title of New Jersey Statewide Systemic Initiative (NJSSI) Regional Director. She was appointed to the National Science Foundation Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (CEOSE) and served on that committee for six years. She is the 2005 recipient of the American Chemical Society Dreyfus Award for mentoring minorities in science and she is currently working on a book about the history of African-American women chemists.

Physical location

Department
Collection
Oral history number 0673

Interviewee biographical information

Born
  • November 05, 1938
  • Altheimer, Arkansas, United States

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1958 Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College BS Chemistry and Mathematics
1961 Atlanta University MS Organic Chemistry
1968 University of Chicago PhD Physical Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

South Carolina State College

  • 1961 to 1962 Instructor

Morehouse College (Atlanta, Ga.)

  • 1962 to 1964 Instructor

University of Chicago

  • 1964 to 1968 Teaching and Research Assistant, Chemistry

Morris Brown College

  • 1968 to 1973 Associate Professor and Chair, Chemistry
  • 1973 to 1984 Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry and Chair
  • 1984 to 1989 Dean of Academic Affairs
  • 1990 to 1992 Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry
  • 1992 to 1993 Interim President
  • 1993 Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry
  • 1995 to 1997 Dean of Science and Technology
  • 1998 Interim President
  • 1999 to 2010 Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry

Lockheed-Georgia Company

  • 1981 National Science Foundation Research Fellow
  • 1982 Research Consultant

Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.)

  • 1984 SCEEE Faculty Research Fellow

IPECS Holland

  • 1990 Research Consultant

Honors

Year(s) Award
1956 to 1958 Rockefeller Scholarship
1970 Outstanding Service Award, Special Services Students, Morris Brown College
1970 to 1974 Liaison Officer, United Negro College Fund Pre-Medical Summer Program, Fisk University
1973 Congratulatory Plaque, Arkansas A. M. & N. College Alumni Association
1973 Certificate of Appreciation, Student Government Association, Morris Brown College
1974 Testimonial of Appreciation, CPB Advisory Panel on Essentials for Minority Programming
1974 Atlanta Deltas “Breaking New Ground,” Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
1974 Appreciation Certificate, Senior Class, Morris Brown College
1974 to 1976 Chair, Greater Atlanta Public Broadcasting Study Committee
1975 Certificate of Appreciation, Atlanta Board of Education
1976 Scroll of Honor, National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women
1976 Outstanding Teacher Award, Senior Class, Morris Brown College
1977 Appreciation Plaque, Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium
1977 Outstanding Service Award, Student Assistance Program, Morris Brown College
1977 to 1979 Chair, Self Study Steering Committee, Morris Brown College
1978 Sixth Edition Award, Atlanta Chapter, National Association of Media Women
1978 Chairlady's Award, Atlanta Chapter, National Association of MediaWomen
1978 Public Broadcasting Service Award, Atlanta Chapter, National Association of Media Women
1978 Resolution of Appreciation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting
1978 Appreciation Plaque, Task Force on Minorities in Public Broadcasting
1979 Resolution of Appreciation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting
1979 Outstanding Black Women, the Utopian Club
1980 to 1982 Vice President, Public Broadcasting Atlanta Board
1981 Faculty Industrial Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation
1982 Certificate of Appreciation, State of Georgia
1983 Teacher of the Year, Senior Class, Morris Brown College
1983 Faculty/Staff Hall of Fame, Senior Class, Morris Brown College
1983 Special Service Award, Morris Brown College
1983 Appreciation Award, Upward Bound Program, Morris Brown College
1983 Honorary Member, Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society, Morris Brown College
1984 Faculty Research Fellowship, Southeastern Center for Electrical Engineering Education, Air Force Office of Scientific Research
1984 Appreciation Award, Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory
1985 UNCF Distinguished Scholar Award, United Negro College Fund
1985 Certificate of Recognition, Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Programs Personnel
1985 Appreciation Plaque, Metro SYETP, DeKalb County SYETP, and Upward Bound
1985 Appreciation Plaque, PREP Class of 1985, Morris Brown College
1985 Service Above Self Award, TRIO Programs, Morris Brown College
1986 Appreciation Plaque, Martin/Altheimer School Reunion
1986 Certificate of Appreciation, U. S. Department of Education
1986 Presidential Citation in Recognition of Exemplary Experiences that Honor My Alma Mater, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
1986 Appreciation Trophy, Morris Brown College Upward Bound/Metro SYETP
1987 Alumni All-Star Excellence Award in Education, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
1988 Appreciation Trophy, Morris Brown College TRIO Programs
1988 Honorary Member, Golden Key National Honor Society, Morris Brown College
1989 YWCA Salute to Women of Achievement
1989 to 1990 United Negro College Fund Distinguished Scholar
1989 to 1990 Appreciation Award, Scholars Restaurant, Morris Brown College
1990 Honorary Member, Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, Morris Brown College
1991 “Women of Color in the Struggle,” A Consortium of Doctors LTD
1991 Outstanding Black Educators in Atlanta, SuccessGuide 1991: The Guide to Black Resources in Atlanta
1991 Appreciation Trophy, Morris Brown College Upward Bound Program
1992 Resolution by the House of Representations, Commendations and Recognition, Georgia State Legislature
1992 “A Salute to Black Mothers: For Outstanding Contributions to the Black Community,” Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta, Inc.
1993 Proclamation, “Gloria Long Anderson Day,” City of Atlanta, Georgia
1993 Proclamation by the Governor of the State of Georgia
1993 Citation, Achievement, 120th Founder's Day Celebration, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
1993 Plaque, Achievement, 120th Founder's Day Celebration, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
1994 Appreciation Plaque, Morris Brown College Women's Week
1994 to 1995 Appreciation Plaque, “Be the Labor Great or Small; Do It Well or Not At all; Dr. Anderson: You Did It Well!” “Thank You and We Love You,” Organic Chemistry class, Morris Brown College
1996 Appreciation Plaque, Morris Brown College TRIO Programs
1997 Appreciation Plaque, Morris Brown College TRIO Programs
1998 Certificate of Recognition, Druid Pointe Black History Month Committee
1998 Belle Ringer Image Award, Bennett College
1998 “A Salute to Black Mothers: For Outstanding Contributions in Education,” Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta, Inc.
1998 Outstanding Georgia Citizen, State of Georgia
1998 Recognition Plaque, Morris Brown College
1998 Interim President Appreciation Plaque, “You Are the Heart and Soul of Morris Brown College,” Morris Brown College Faculty and Staff
1999 Outstanding Education Award, West Georgia Chapter, Morris Brown College National Alumni Association
2001 Chair, Promotion and Tenure Ad Hoc Appeals Committee, Morris Brown College
2002 Appreciation Plaque, “For Distinguished Service in Science,” Going the Distance 3rd Annual commencement Gala, Morris Brown College
2002 Scroll of Honor Award, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
2003 Chair, Academic Planning Task Force, Morris Brown College
2003 Chair, Faculty Retention Task Force, Morris Brown College
2004 Chair, Academic Affairs Council, Morris Brown College
2004 Appreciation Plaque, “In Appreciation for Faculty Leadership,” Morris Brown College Faculty

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The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

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