Telling the story of an African American chemist

Harold Evans in a lab
Harold Evans in 1949. Image in public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Chemist Harold B. Evans was one of a handful of African American scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project. A photo of him has been included in the Wikipedia article on African-American scientists and technicians on the Manhattan Project for several years — but Wikipedia lacked his biography until student De’Narie Breeland created it this year.

De’Narie wrote the article on Evans as a class assignment for Corry Stevenson’s Principles of Engineering class at Denmark Technical College. Denmark, a Historically Black College and University, is located in Allendale, South Carolina, where De’Narie is from. De’Narie and her classmates were assigned to create a biography of a diverse person in STEM with support from Wiki Education as part of an initiative sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation to support diversity in STEM on Wikipedia.

“At first, I was confused that I was going to be writing an article or biography. I have never written a biography or article for Wikipedia or for a college class,” De’Narie says.

But she didn’t let that stop her. She jumped right in and started researching Evans’s contributions.

“I chose Harold B. Evans because he was an African American male who had an opportunity that many African Americans could not have,” De’Narie says. “It was very meaningful because us African Americans have been overlooked in the past and I love to see African Americans achieve in something so big.”

She learned the ins and outs of Wikipedia editing through Wiki Education’s online trainings, with support from Wiki Education’s Wikipedia Expert Brianda Felix. And, in addition to learning more about Wikipedia, she also learned about the importance of African American scientists. De’Narie isn’t sure what she wants to pursue career-wise yet — cosmetology, midwifery, and real estate are all of interest — but she enjoyed researching Evans and adding citations about his life.

“I learned that there were a few, only a few, African Americans who were able to help on the Manhattan Project,” De’Narie says. “This experience was really great.”

Visit to learn how to incorporate a Wikipedia assignment into your own course


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