Ernest Everett Just ’07 Wins First Spingarn Medal

Just broke through racial barriers and conducted groundbreaking research in cell biology.

Ernest Everett Just graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1907, the winner of virtually every senior class prize. He pursued an illustrious career of teaching and research in zoology and marine biology at Howard University and the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. When he was only 31 years old, Just was named the first recipient of the N.A.A.C.P's Spingarn Medal, an award later bestowed upon such individuals as W.E.B. DuBois, George Washington Carver, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He accept the prestigious medal with the brief words, "I thank the Association for the award, not so much for myself as for the students whom I represent."

Despite the fact that Just's work received world-wide attention, the color bar that so dominated life in the United States of the early 1900s denied him access to the research positions and grant funds that would have assured full participation in the scientific world. Even so, when Just died in 1941 at the age of fifty-eight, he was universally recognized as one of his era's most able and devoted scientists. 

Dartmouth College has established the E.E. Just Professorship in Just's honor, as well as the E.E. Just Program for Minority Students in Science. 

Excerpted from a printed program for the "Ceremony Celebrating the Establishment of the Ernest Everett Just ’07 Stamp", held March 8, 1996 at the Hanover Inn.

Read more about Just's time at Dartmouth from the Rauner Library

Image courtesy of the Rauner Special Collections Library