Appendices to Talk by Lee Lorch, AMS Special Session, Cincinnati, January, 1994

The Painful Path to Inclusiveness

Dr. Lee Lorch
Department of Mathematics
York University
North York, Ontario M3J 1P3  Canada

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(416) 736-5250

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Attachment 1

Letters reprinted from Science 114:2954 (1951), 161--162.

Attachment 2

Letter of Lee Lorch, December 17, 1951

December 17, 1951

Board of Governors
Mathematical Association of America


The Fisk mathematics department has directed me to communicate our views concerning the resolution against discrimination adopted by your Board last September and published in the Monthly, November 1951, p. 661.

We are pleased at the anti-discrimination affirmation constituting the first sentence. It is our hope that you will now proceed to implement this with unequivocal, unambiguous action that will protect the rights of all members to full, equal participation in all aspects of the work of the Association. The protection of such rights is an inescapable obligation upon the officers and Board in particular, for nothing less than full and equal participation is the right of each member, regardless of race, creed or color.

An absolutely essential prerequisite to this protection is to require, as we requested in our original letter of April 20, 1951, later published in Science (August 10, 1951), p. 161, that no meetings be held at any place unless prior assurance is received that there will be no discrimination, in the meeting rooms, eating places, teas, banquets, social functions, etc. This was put forth as the result of the exclusion of Negro mathematicians from the banquet of the southeastern region of the Association last spring. The national President of the Association was the speaker and the Vice Chancellor of Vanderbilt University was toastmaster.

How can it be said that discrimination is being avoided if we do not take the elementary step of holding meetings only where such assurances are forthcoming?

This is not a matter of ``legislating welcome." This has to do solely with the right of every mathematician, regardless of his color, to participate as fully as any other mathematician in the Mathematical Association. The very acceptance of dues, which are the same for all members, is an act which binds the Association to provide non-discriminatory treatment for all.

We believe that the by-laws we requested earlier should be adopted.

It is of the utmost importance that the action be a matter of clear record so that everybody knows that all aspects of all meetings must be non-discriminatory.

Experience in the south has demonstrated quite clearly that the sharp, definite elimination of racial restrictions is not only the just way but is also the easy way. The more you drag things out, the vaguer you are --- the more room you leave for doubts and misunderstanding, the more trouble you have.

Further, the Association has the task of promoting the interests of collegiate mathematics, which includes bringing teachers of collegiate mathematics into active participation in the work of the Association.

Here it should be realized that nearly all Negroes teaching collegiate mathematics are employed in the segregated schools of the south. There are few exceptions. Without dwelling here on the reasons for such limited employment, I note merely that the meetings that these mathematicians (like other southern mathematicians) would be expected to attend most numerously are those held in the south. When the Society met at the University of Georgia in 1947, not one Negro was present. At the Annual Meeting, held at the University of Florida, in 1950, only one Negro attended. The Secretary of the southeastern region of the Association told me that no Negro had ever attended an Association meeting in that region in the twenty years he has been Secretary until some Fisk faculty and graduate students went last spring (and were excluded from the banquet). I suspect that a similar report could be made in respect to the Society.

Negro mathematicians are naturally reluctant to attend meetings held at schools with which they have virtually no other contact. They feel concerned lest they be excluded, segregated, restricted in their activities, or otherwise humiliated. Those who teach in the state colleges for Negroes have the additional worry that their Boards of Trustees would take punitive action against them if they are involved in an ``incident."

The southern meetings seem to have been organized around the assumption that no Negroes will attend. The arrangements committee for the Association's southeastern regional meeting held last spring at Vanderbilt and Peabody listed only housing facilities restricted to white patrons.

The Society meeting held at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, November 23--24, 1951, is another illustration. No housing or dining facilities were provided by the host institution and the printed program listed only places which are restricted to white patrons. One Negro mathematician did attend. He had to eat by himself. Since he is a Professor at Tuskegee (less than twenty miles away) he was able to return home to sleep. Had he come from a more distant institution and desired to remain over for the second day of the meeting there is no telling where he might have had to sleep.

The program listed a Social Hour, details to be announced at the meeting. He asked at the registration desk for further information. A member of the Arrangements Committee told him that ``technically" he could attend, but that he ``probably would not want to do so, as it was being held in one of the girls' dormitories."

Precise by-laws are needed to extend to all members the full benefits restricted to some by present practices. Moreover, they must be so unmistakably phrased that no confusion can arise.

Only thus can they encourage Negro mathematicians to participate in Association meetings, secure in the knowledge that any announced meeting is one whose hosts have assured the Board that there will be no discrimination.

Interracial arrangements committees for southern meetings would also help, since they would anticipate (and could therefore eliminate) a number of problems that might otherwise prove bothersome.

Sincerely yours,

Lee Lorch, Chairman
Mathematics Department

Attachment 3

1969 Business Meeting Special Report from the AMS Notices 16 (1969), 480--481.

Attachment 4

Referendum Report from the AMS Notices 16 (1969), 627.

Attachment 5

Preamble and letter of Lee Lorch, July 19, 1969


Nearly a year ago, at the New Orleans meeting of the AMS, MAG introduced five resolutions:

              against classified research;

              against war work;

              for study of faculty-student tension;

              for a more open editorial policy in the Notices;

              for consideration of problems of Black and Third World

The Council of the AMS submitted these resolutions to the membership for a vote, along with a resolution they called Resolution B. Resolution B reads as follows.

Whereas the American Mathematical Society encourages all persons interested in mathematical research to be members and whereas these members hold a wide variety of political and social views and have been welcomed to membership without regard to these views, resolved that the Society shall not attempt to speak with one voice for the membership on political and social issues not of direct professional concern and shall adhere closely to the purposes stated in its Articles of Incorporation of ``furtherance of the interests of mathematical scholarship and research."

The following letter was submitted to Everett Pitcher for publication in the Notices and for presentation to the Council. In early August, Pitcher replied, saying he would present it to the Council and would consider it for publication in the Notices. On October 1, Pitcher wrote to say, among other things, that the letter would not appear in the Notices.

Since we believe that the resolutions and the letter remain pertinent, it is reproduced in full here.

July 19, 1969

At a meeting attended by 30 of its 54 members, the Council of the AMS requested the membership to adopt by mail ballot Resolution B. This resolution came to the attention of the membership for the first time through this ballot. The same ballot included five other resolutions introduced in the authorized fashion by Professor E. Dubinsky at the January 1969 Business Meeting and printed subsequently in the Notices. In accordance with Society policy, the Dubinsky resolutions were \underbar{not} discussed at the meeting at which they were introduced.

According to the ballot,``The Council recommends a vote AGAINST Resolution i as a consequence of its position on Resolution B." (i=1,2,3,4,5)

This vote is being taken with no prior discussion in any membership forum, whether at a business meeting or through letters to the Notices. There is no emergency requiring such precipitate action. Moreover, no arguments, pro or con, have been supplied the membership by the Council concerning either the six resolutions on the ballot (except for the flat statement of its own position quoted in full above) or the need, if any, for a snap vote.

The Democratic process presupposes open, full discussion of issues by the electorate before requiring it to vote. The Society by-laws themselves attempt to protect against snap votes by postponing action from one business meeting to the next. Why all the haste now?

Perhaps it will be argued that the issues involved are too obvious to require discussion. I do not find them so.

The words of Resolution B can be expected to acquire their real meanings only as they are interpreted and applied in specific situations over the years. The present requested application to Resolutions 1--5 will play its part in this process. What ``political and social issues" are ``of direct professional concern"? How do we ``adhere closely to the purpose...of `furtherance of the interests of mathematical scholarship and research'"? (Quotations from Resolution B.) There are many examples of how the political and academic atmospheres have direct impact on these interests.

Moreover, I believe that these very words require the \underbar{support} of, say, Resolution 5 which the Council tells us we should oppose. This resolution states (in full):

Whereas the shortage of mathematicians in North American Universities is different and greater among black and brown Americans than among whites, and whereas this situation is not improving, be it resolved that the AMS appoint a committee composed of black and third world mathematicians to study this problem and other problems concerning black and third world mathematicians, and report their conclusions and recommendations to the Society.

The AMS has long been involved with mathematical manpower problems. It supports the growth of the mathematical community, regarding this as necessary to the progress of mathematics, an ever-growing science with rapidly accelerating uses in other fields. It has on occasion interested itself, justifiably, in opposing the exclusion on non-mathematical grounds of mathematicians from mathematical employment. It has taken a position on the draft, a political issue, as it affects the careers of potential mathematicians. Resolution 5 seeks a path toward the goal of eliminating the exclusion on non-mathematical grounds from full opportunity to qualify for such careers.

It can be accepted, I believe, that the AMS views manpower resources as ``of direct professional concern" and attention to this problem as being in ``furtherance of the interests of mathematical scholarship and research."

Surely, this requires the adoption of Resolution 5.

Black America constitutes about 11% of the US population, perhaps more. Other groups covered in Resolution 5 add significantly to this percentage. Yet, in all, they probably represent less than 1/2 of 1% of the AMS membership. This shocking imbalance demonstrates quite clearly the need for considering this tremendous loss to the mathematical community, leaving aside the human considerations owed to these hard-pressed groups.

Resolution 5 takes note of this sad fact and makes a simple request which is certainly in furtherance of the professional need to tap all potential sources for mathematical talent. That Resolution 5 can also serve the aspirations of sorely exploited groups is surely no argument against its adoption.

I hope that the Council will reconsider promptly its attitude on the Dubinsky resolutions and recognize that the logical implication it asserted so flatly is invalid. At the very least, it should recommend adoption of Resolution 5 and a more thoughtful review of Resolutions 1--4. In addition, it should recommend a Resolution 6 establishing a committee composed of women mathematicians to consider the corresponding ``womanpower" questions.

For the AMS, at the request of its Council, to reject Resolution 5 will raise grave doubts concerning its real attitude toward personnel questions.

Do we care only for those already in the profession? Is the Society willing to accept the present nearly complete exclusion from our mathematical manpower pool of Black America?

Mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike await the answers to these questions. The Council has the task of providing leadership.

Lee Lorch

Attachment 6

History of Proposed Foreign Membership from the AMS Notices 23 (1976).}

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