Chess + Science = Success for Blacks!

For a long time, there has been an irony that has plagued many Black students in many major metropolitan cities in America. There has been the notion that Blacks could not excel in the "higher sciences." Subjects such as math, physics and computer science were avoided like the plague and more "practical" subjects such as law, business, or medicine were chosen. While Lincoln University professor Dr. Abdulalim Shabazz (no immediate relation to The Chess Drum's Dr. Daaim Shabazz) has earned a stellar reputation for having trained the highest number of Black mathematicians in the country, there is a similar effort being made at University of Maryland - Baltimore County by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.

Dr. Hrabowski's efforts  have centered around the recruitment of gifted Black  students for the Meyerhoff scholarship program. A recent article stated that, "Ninety percent of its participants graduate in math, engineering, or the sciences, and 90% of those students attend graduate school." Of course UMBC has also gained a reputation for their chess prowess having won five collegiate championships in the last six years. In fact,  FM William Morrison has played on all five of those teams! Dr. Alan Sherman, Faculty Adviser of UMBC chess club and Associate Professor of Computer Science, has for the past several years, offered full scholarships for high school students with a 1400+ SAT score and a rating of 2000+.

Saying this, it is apparent that schools taking this approach can become a magnet for chess players who aspire to higher heights in chess while developing a career in the sciences. More than a dozen schools have begun offering scholarships in chess.  Perhaps UMBC will continue to foster the intellectual environment conducive to developing brilliant Black scientists.  It is common knowledge at this time, that Black chess players routinely excel in the analytical fields (see Gregory Kearse's article), so perhaps there is a way to use chess as a developmental tool for the higher sciences.

Editor's Note: Recently, Kimani Stancil (an expert player from Maryland and former student at UMBC) just completed his Ph.D. in Physics at Massachusetts  Institute of Technology. Congratulations!!!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 5 May  2002