Listing many of the groundbreaking accomplishments of Randolph “Bill” Bromery downplays the adversity he faced, from subtle biases to outright discrimination (”Randolph Bromery, education pioneer,” Metro, Feb.8). Accomplishments like serving in the Tuskegee Airmen, as chancellor of UMass Amherst, and as president of the Geological Society of America did not shield him from efforts to derail him as a geologist and administrative pioneer.
Only recently have UMass Amherst and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts started to recognize Bromery’s legacy, for example by rededicating the fine arts center on campus in his honor. One of Bromery’s greatest desires was to graduate more Black students, especially in the geosciences. Black geologists and academics were rare, due to limited offerings at historically Black colleges and universities, as well as hostile cultures across universities. Despite the efforts of many leaders and groups, Black Americans still remain underrepresented in the geosciences nationally, currently receiving about 2 percent of bachelor’s degrees. Recent movements for justice and equality have begun to realize the changes Bromery led more than 40 years ago.
As prime examples, UMass Amherst’s Department of Geosciences has graduated its first two Black women with PhDs and hired its second Black faculty member. However, work still remains to bring inclusivity to the field and bring geosciences to the people it once shunned.
Justin B. Richardson
Sarah V. McKnight
William P. Clement
Jordan J. Allen
Michael J. Williams
The writers are members of the Bromery Committee of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an ad hoc group of faculty and graduate students with the goal of continuing the legacy of Randolph Bromery.