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Black History Month
2018 Honoree

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Danny Bernard Martin

Danny Bernard Martin

Professor, Education and Mathematics

University of Illinois at Chicago


Where are you from? 

I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin. I lived in Florida with my immediate family and relatives on my mother’s side from the ages of 6-9. We returned to Wisconsin at that time. I continued to live there until I graduated from college. After college, I moved to Berkeley, CA and continued to live in the area for 17 years. I moved to Chicago in 2004. I currently live in the city on the near west side.


Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/ cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.  

I always enjoyed mathematics as a student, beginning in elementary school. I was a high achiever and received lots of recognition from my teachers and peers. That continued through middle school, high school, and college. Because I enjoyed learning, and reading mathematics on my own, I would not say there was a singular experience that cultivated my interest. I had many encouraging teachers. I participated in the accelerated curriculum during middle school. I was in the IB program during high school. I had lots of admiration for my math teachers, and they were very supportive. I still have my elementary school report cards where some of my teachers stated that I would continue to excel in mathematics.


What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences? 

I would say persisting and realizing when I wanted to change course. After my undergraduate studies where I majored in math and physics and completed substantial coursework in computer science, I went to UC Berkeley for graduate school in mathematics. I completed a master’s degree before realizing that I did not want to continue that path in life. I met Uri Treisman at UC Berkeley and began teaching in the Professional Development Program (PDP) calculus workshops, and teaching in summer programs for diverse youth. Shortly after, I also began teaching community college mathematics ranging from arithmetic to differential equations. I decided to pursue a PhD in Mathematics Education around the same time, also at UC Berkeley. That turned out to be a good decision for me in terms of professional identity and happiness. Over the last 25 years, I would like to think that I have made strong contributions to changing how we conduct research on Black learners in mathematics. There is much more work to do, but I think I am helping to shape the agenda moving forward.


What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your personal life? 

Becoming a father, at a later stage in life. I have a son, and he is my only child. Now, I have to think about how to raise him, protect him, and help him remain a good human being. My sense of urgency is certainly heightened.


Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration. 

Hmmm. I would say that whatever one does, he or she has to remain principled and be honest with the self. I am not fooled by or interested in flash, and I am not interested in following the crowd because something is popular. I am more concerned with doing what is right, just, and humane. Humility is a good thing. And being secure enough to define yourself is important. If you do not take control of your identity, others will do it for you.