Physicist Activist: Dr. Elmer Imes and the Civil Rights Case of Juliette Derricotte

Physicist Activist: Dr. Elmer Imes and the Civil Rights Case of Juliette Derricotte

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Portrait of Elmer Imes

Portrait of Elmer Imes

Fisk University, courtesy AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives

Students will learn about prominent African American physicist Elmer Imes who headed the physics department at Fisk University.  They will learn about his involvement in the civil rights case of Juliette Derricotte and about racial segregation in the 1930s. Note: this lesson works very well alongside the AIP Teaching Guide “Dr. Elmer Imes and Spectroscopy.” This Guide explores a historical tragedy that Elmer Imes became involved in; the related Teaching Guide explores Imes’ personal history and scientific work in spectroscopy, and provides a hands-on activity involving spectroscopy.