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Ernest Just

AKA Ernest Everett Just

Born: 14-Aug-1883
Birthplace: Charleston, SC
Died: 27-Oct-1941
Location of death: Washington, DC
Cause of death: Cancer - Stomach
Remains: Buried, Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Suitland, MD

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Cell surfaces and egg fertilization

Ernest Just finished high school in a special program for "advanced Negroes" at 16, then worked as a day laborer in New York City, earning tuition to attend Kimball Academy, a much better, private school in New Hampshire. He was Kimball's only black student, and became captain of the debating team and class valedictorian.

He went on to earn top marks at Dartmouth and the University of Chicago, but could only teach at the historically black and underfunded Howard University. Despite his training in science, he taught English at Howard until there was an opening in the biology department. Still, at Howard he refuted Jacques Loeb's theory of artificial parthenogenesis, and conducted respected research into genetics, cytology, and embryology, with significant works on cell surfaces and walls, and the mechanics of egg fertilization. He was the faculty advisor for the inception of Omega Psi Phi, a national fraternity for black collegiates, which was founded in Just's office at Howard in 1911.

In 1915 he was awarded the inaugural Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. But by the 1930s, frustrated at roadblocks within the racially-constricted academic atmosphere in America, he resettled in Europe and married a German woman. He was living in Paris when the Nazis took the city, and was briefly held in an internment camp until being deported to America, where he soon became ill and died of cancer.

Father: Charles Frazier Just (dock builder, d. 1887 alcoholism)
Mother: Mary Matthews Just (school teacher, m. 19-Sep-1878, d. 1902)
Sister: Vivian Just (d. 1884 diptheria)
Brother: Hunter Just (b. 1885)
Sister: Mary Just (b. 1886)
Wife: Ethel Highwarden Just (German language teacher, m. 26-Jun-1912, div., two daughters, one son))
Daughter: Margaret Just Butcher (American Literature Professor, b. 1913)
Son: Highwarden Just (school principal)
Daughter: Maribel Just Butler (Census Bureau worker)
Wife: Hedwig Schnetzler Just (m. 1931, one daughter)
Daughter: Elizabeth Just

    High School: Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural & Mechanical College (1900)
    High School: Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, NH (1903)
    University: BA Biology, Dartmouth College (1907)
    Teacher: Dunbar High School, Washington, DC (1907-08)
    Teacher: English and Biology, Howard University (1908-10)
    Scholar: Marine Biological Laboratory (Summers, 1909-30)
    Professor: Zoology, Howard University (1910-41)
    Professor: Physiology, Howard University (1912-41)
    University: PhD Experimental Embryology, University of Chicago (1916)
    Scholar: Naples Zoological Station (1929-30)
    Scholar: Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Berlin (1930-33)
    Scholar: Sorbonne (1938-40)

    Spingarn Medal 1915
    Rosenwald Fellowship 1920
    Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Co-founder (1911)
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    Deported to the United States (1941)

Author of books:
Basic Methods for Experiments on Eggs of Marine Animals (1939)
The Biology of the Cell Surface (1939)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #3058 (32 cents, depicting Just, issued 1-Feb-1996)


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