The myth of the first African-American electrical engineer: Arthur U. Craig and the importance of teaching in technological history
Abstract: In recent years, historians of technology including Bruce Sinclair, Rayvon Fouché, and Amy Slaton have analyzed the intersection of technological and African-American history to redress the historical and enduring correlation between whiteness and technology. This paper contributes to this conversation by chronicling the story of Arthur U. Craig, a faculty member at the Tuskegee Institute who installed the university’s famous lighting system. During Craig’s tenure at the Institute, he was touted to be the ‘first black electrical engineer’ – but he resisted that title. This article examines why. In so doing, ‘The Myth of the First African-American Electrical Engineer’ builds upon three scholarly conversations. First, it discusses how the cultural meanings of electricity inflected how Tuskegee advertised Craig’s contributions to campus. Second, it re-situates the often-overlooked Craig within the history of Tuskegee Institute. Finally, it examines Craig’s contribution to debates about engineering education for African American students.
History and Technology
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Lieberman. (2016). The myth of the first African-American electrical engineer: Arthur U. Craig and the importance of teaching in technological history. History and Technology, 32(1), 70–90. https://doi.org/10.1080/07341512.2016.1184016