James King, Jr. Institute for Student and Faculty Engagement

Who was James King, Jr. ?

Dr. James King, Jr. ('53) was a Chemistry major and Mathematics minor at Morehouse that studied under Henry C. McBay.  He completed his PhD in Chemical Physics at Caltech in 1958, was the first black PhD hired at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and after retiring from JPL in 1993, he fulfilled a promise that he made to Benjamin E. Mays to return to Morehouse to teach and mentor students.  In 1996, King received the College's Candle in Science and Technology Award. After hearing the news that a new STEM program at Morehouse would be named to honor Jim King,  his good friend William D. Hutchinson ('55) shared the following comment:

Over the years, Jim and I would often reflect on the impact that Morehouse had on what we became over the years.  At Morehouse, we were immersed in an environment that optimized our chances for future success; this environment was shared by all our contemporaries.  In the fifties Morehouse was able to find young men, challenge them to succeed and give us the support that we might need to overcome the obstacles that we would face in life.  We were also imbued with a desire to help others to succeed by using our maturity and experience to mentor those coming behind us.