Mixed Chicks: Black History Month Person of Distinction: Marie M. Daly

It’s Black History Month and we are all about celebrating pioneers, activists, visionaries, entrepreneurs and leaders who have worked hard to push the African American community forward with their contributions.

Today’s Black History Month Person of Distinction is Marie M. Daly, the first African American woman to receive a PH.D in Chemistry in the United States.

Marie M. Daly was born on April 16, 1921, in Queens, New York. She was raised in an education-oriented family, and Daly quickly received her B.S. and M.S. in chemistry at Queens College and New York University. After completing her Ph.D. at Columbia—and becoming the first African-American woman to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States—Daly taught and conducted research. She died in New York City on October 28, 2003.

Future chemist Marie M. Daly was born on April 16, 1921, in Queens, New York. The pioneering scientist was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States, and her groundbreaking work helped clarify how the human body works.

Daly came from a family who believed strongly in the power of education. Her father, Ivan C. Daly, had emigrated from the West Indies as a young man and enrolled at Cornell University to study chemistry. A lack of money blocked his path, however, and he was forced to quit college, instead returning to New York City where he found work as a postal clerk.

Daly’s mother, Helen, grew up in Washington, D.C., and came from a family of readers. She spent long hours reading to her daughter, and fostered Marie’s love of books—in particular those that centered on science and scientists.