NAM's Golden Anniversary

By Michael Pearson, Executive Director of the Mathematical Association of America

NAM-MAA Blackwell Lecture, Raegan Higgins, MAA MathFest, Denver 2018

NAM-MAA Blackwell Lecture, Raegan Higgins, MAA MathFest, Denver 2018

The National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) was founded in 1969. With membership open to all, NAM promotes excellence in the mathematical sciences while serving as a voice for underrepresented Americans in the mathematical sciences community.

The MAA is proud to join NAM to celebrate its 50th Anniversary Year throughout 2019.

In this, Black History Month, it’s useful to take a moment to think about the progress we’ve made, and the work that remains to be done.

In 1933, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month and a pivotal figure in the study of black history, wrote The Mis-Education of the Negro. Dr. Woodson argued that the core of classical education at that time served to strengthen the oppression of black people, even for the limited segment of the population who gained access to prestigious schools. It is a biting critique of society at the time.

Of course much has changed since 1933. But power structures in our society remain aligned against many of those who have been historically marginalized. Ibram X. Kendi, the author of “Stamped from the Beginning,” a history of racist ideas, and the founder of the Antiracism Center at American University, argues persuasively that we must move far beyond so-called “neutral” policies that ultimately are bound to establish (majority) norms and values. I agree.

The MAA and NAM have long shared the goal of broadening participation in mathematics, and we look forward to continuing to work with our friends and colleagues in NAM to continue this important work, as well as engaging in the broader discussions needed to move our society towards a fully-inclusive and just society. I note, too, that trends in society around the use of data offer a natural place for our community to engage in discussions around what constitutes appropriate and ethical use of such data.

I’ll finish by sharing the congratulatory letter sent to NAM:

January 10, 2019

Edray Goins, President
National Association of Mathematicians
Pomona College
Claremont, CA 91711

Dear Edray,

On behalf of the Mathematical Association of America, we are writing to congratulate the
National Association of Mathematicians on the occasion of their Golden Anniversary.
The MAA joins with NAM to celebrate 50 years of promoting excellence in the mathematical
sciences and advocacy for inclusion of underrepresented populations in our discipline.
Recognizing that we have made progress but have much more to do, we also affirm our
commitment to continue to work with NAM. The role of mathematics is as critical for our
society now as it has ever been. For both the health of our discipline and our society, we must
continue to expand opportunities for all of our citizens to participate and succeed in
mathematics at all levels.

The MAA has recently adopted a new vision statement: We envision a society that values the
power and beauty of mathematics and fully realizes its potential to promote human flourishing.
We know that working towards this vision will require a shared commitment across our
community to inclusivity, one of MAA's core values, and we are proud to continue to work
with our friends and colleagues at NAM to ensure that mathematics is a key contributor to a
more welcoming and just society.


Michael Pearson Deanna Haunsperger
Executive Director President

As usual, MAA MathFest will feature the annual David Blackwell Lecture. We’re already planning to co-host additional events to mark NAM’s Golden Anniversary. We hope you’ll join us in Cincinnati July 31–August 3 as we mark this milestone for NAM, celebrate its achievements, and join in discussions of how you can contribute to the critical work that still remains.