Born in Montgomery, Alabama on April 11th, 1899, race negatively affected him every step of the way. As a young adult he had to attend high school at night while in college to keep up with his white classmates because public high school wasn’t available for blacks at the time. After graduating from DePauw University he tried desperately to find a job professing or in a chemistry lab but was constantly refused because of his skin color. Finally his luck started to change. After professing at an all black college, he landed a job in a small, underprivileged laboratory at DePauw.
From here, the lost list of accomplishments begins. What really kick started his career as a chemist was his work at DePauw. There he synthesized Physostigmine, a drug still used to treat glaucoma, skin and kidney disease, and leukemia. But the school wouldn’t offer him a professing job because of his race. Next, his work was continued at Glidden Paint factory, Here him and his research crew began studies on the soybean plant. His quick discoveries improving paint for the company were soon overcome by his ambition to achieve greater so he began that research on his own time.
Still fascinated with the soy bean plant he further studied into the uses of it and made an even more important discovery, the protein extracted from the soy bean plant could be used to make hormones for the body. Such uses include the drug to prevent miscarriages, a major issue in at the time. Of his next achievements were discovering an easier and more efficient way to synthesize cortisone using yam which was used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a crippling disease that many people suffer from. These were made at his own laboratory which later he sold and became one of the first black millionaires in the U.
S. The list can go on for a long time, but that’s not the point. The point is that he worked up from nothing and struggled through the racism of America. He continued on when the world around him said to quit, and he wasn’t good enough. His diligence and determination is the two things that made him successful, and two things all of us should have in us. They are the two things necessary to succeed, the hard work has to be put in and you have refuse to quit. This is why Percy Julian did all that he did, and it’s why he became one of the most famous and successful chemists of our time.