Beyond Banneker

Black Mathematicians and the Paths to Excellence

By Erica N. Walker

Subjects: African American Studies, Mathematics, Education, Higher Education, Teacher Education
Paperback : 9781438452166, 185 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438452159, 185 pages, June 2014

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Preface: “The Substance of Things Hoped For, the Evidence of Things Not Seen”
1. Introduction
2. Kinships and Communities
3. Navigating the Mason-Dixon Divide
4. “Representing the Race”
5. Flying Home
6. Conclusions
Appendix A. Methodological Note
Appendix B. Interview Protocol

An in-depth look at the lives, experiences, and professional careers of Black mathematicians in the United States.


Erica N. Walker presents a compelling story of Black mathematical excellence in the United States. Much of the research and discussion about Blacks and mathematics focuses on underachievement; by documenting in detail the experiences of Black mathematicians, this book broadens significantly the knowledge base about mathematically successful African Americans. Beyond Banneker demonstrates how mathematics success is fostered among Blacks by mathematicians, mathematics educators, teachers, parents, and others, a story that has been largely overlooked by the profession and research community. Based on archival research and in-depth interviews with thirty mathematicians, this important and timely book vividly captures important narratives about mathematics teaching and learning in multiple contexts, as well as the unique historical and contemporary settings related to race, opportunity, and excellence that Black mathematicians experience. Walker draws upon these narratives to suggest ways to capitalize on the power and potential of underserved communities to respond to the national imperative for developing math success for new generations of young people.

Erica N. Walker is Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the author of Building Mathematics Learning Communities: Improving Outcomes in Urban High Schools.


"...a well-researched exegesis of the various trajectories people of African descent have taken (and been forced to take) in order to become members of the American mathematical community throughout the late 20th century … Beyond Banneker is an important addition to the conversation about diversity and broadening participation in the sciences." — MAA Reviews

"If you are looking for a book that disrupts dominant discourses of the 'White male math myth' and 'African American inferiority,' this is the book for you … This powerful yet accessible book names oppressive structures and celebrates the brilliance of Black mathematicians." — Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School

"Beyond Banneker adds to a little-known piece of American history." — CHOICE