Black History


February 8, 2024

Joseph Gier added to self-guided Black history tour of UC Berkeley

Black Lives at Cal adds the Joseph Gier Memorial to UC Berkeley’s first self-guided Black history tour. Black Lives at Cal (BLAC) is a multi-year initiative formed in 2021 “to celebrate, defend, and advance the legacy of Black people at the University of California, Berkeley.


December 21, 2022

Berkeley EECS to honor Joseph Gier with memorial sculpture

  A community is defined by the heroes it chooses to celebrate. We invite you to join the EECS department in recognizing a previously overlooked hero, Berkeley EE Prof. Joseph T. Gier, the University of California’s first tenured Black professor. Raised in Oakland by a single mother, Gier came to…

February 21, 2022

Lee Julian Purnell (1896-1983), Berkeley’s earliest known Black EE student

Lee Julian Purnell is the first Black student known to have graduated from the EECS department. He was born in Washington, D.C. in 1896, graduated from Berkeley High in 1915, earned a B.A. from Cal in 1919, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1921, and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley in 1929. He settled into a career at Howard University where he eventually became Dean of Engineering.

February 22, 2019

Reintroducing Joseph Thomas Gier

Joseph T. Gier was a pioneer in every sense. He was the first Black tenured faculty member in the UC system, a successful inventor, and a world authority on infrared measurement. Who was Berkeley EECS Prof. Joseph Gier?