Orange County Public Schools Hall of Fame selections include former Miss America but leave out award winning black physicist

The Orange County public school district may have won the Broad Prize, but last week’s announcement of the inaugural class for the district’s Hall of Fame shows that the district still has some growing to do.

The class of six includes a former Miss America, a former major league baseball player, a state legislator, an astronaut, a former music teacher, and a philanthropist. (See the School Zone report)

One person the Hall of Fame class does not include is Sylvester James Gates, who graduated from Jones High School in 1969 when it was segregated (yes, he is African-American) and who became a theoretical physicist and professor on the faculty of the University of Maryland.  Gates, who studies string theory, was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2013.

So a former Miss America is included, and a National Medal of Science winner who graduated from an Orlando high school during the era of segregation is not.

Go figure.

It is worth noting that Jones High School is the only Orange County public school that is not offering physics this year, even though Jones did offer physics during the segregation era.

The Orlando Sentinel interviewed Gates in 1999.  It’s worth a read.  Perhaps it’s worth reprinting – you know, just to remind the locals.

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