Lloyd Ferguson ’34

Lloyd Ferguson, Class of 1934

Lloyd Ferguson graduated from Tech at the age of 16 and became a world-renowned chemistry professor and textbook author who helped eliminate racial barriers for African Americans in the field of chemistry. By the time Ferguson reached high school, he had already developed household products including a moth repellent, a spot remover, and a lemonade powder. His chemistry teacher at Oakland Tech, Mr. E. W. Long, encouraged him to go to college. With limited family income (his mother worked as a maid), Lloyd worked for several years as a porter on the railroad to earn money for college. He graduated with honors in chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1940 and three years later, became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Berkeley.

When Ferguson graduated in 1943, none of the major chemical companies would interview African Americans or consider them for employment. He turned to teaching, first as an assistant professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina, a historically black college, and then at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he became a full professor in 1955 and head of the chemistry department in 1958.

Ferguson then taught at Cal State L.A. from 1965 to 1986 and established its Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) program, serving as director through 1984. A lecture series, scholarship, and courtyard at Cal Stale L.A. are named after him and he earned many national awards and honors. Ferguson was the author of more than 50 scientific journal publications and six books, including three widely used organic chemistry textbooks. Ferguson died in 2011.