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African American Women Chemists$
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Jeannette Brown

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199742882

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199742882.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 June 2021

Chemical Engineers

Chemical Engineers

Chapter 8 Chemical Engineers
African American Women Chemists

Jeannette Brown

Oxford University Press

Dr. Lilia Abron is an engineer, an entrepreneur, mother, and activist who works twelve-hour days. She is another true Renaissance woman. Lilia was born at home in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 8, 1945. She was small, premature, and almost did not survive were it not for her aunt, who rushed her to the hospital in a cab because ambulances were not available to black people at the time. She was the second of four daughters of Ernest Buford Abron and Bernice Wise Abron, who were both educators. Both of her parents had attended LeMyone College. Her father entered college and played football. Because of an injury he was ineligible to serve in the military in World War II. He then worked as a Pullman porter, because his father had been a Pullman porter. After the war, when the trains were not as popular, he became a teacher in the Memphis public schools. Lilia’s mother and father were very active during the civil rights era. Lilia’s mother was from Arkansas; and she typed the briefs for Wiley Branton, defense attorney for the Little Rock Nine, the group that integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Because Lilia’s parents were active in Memphis society, Lilia was involved in programs that included the Girl Scouts and the church. She went to public school in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, which led the United States to improve math and science education. The school system tracked each student’s education, even in the segregated schools. Therefore, Lilia was placed in the math and science track. This meant she participated in a science fair, which was held at Lemoyne College. In addition, she had to prepare other science projects. Her segregated schools were well equipped for science teaching. In addition to well-stocked labs, the Memphis high school that she attended offered higher-level mathematics, including algebra and introduction to calculus. She graduated from high school in Memphis and decided to go to college with the intention of studying medicine, which was the one of the few occupations available to black people at the time.

Keywords:   Little Rock Nine, PEER Africa Pty. (Ltd.), PEER Consultants PC, Sputnik, Tennessee State University, Washington University

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