A Brief History of Founding of Minority Affairs Committee

John H. WallaceIn 1974 the AAI Council created the Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups to understand and enhance opportunities for the scientific and career development of minority scientists. In 1978 it was announced in the AAI Newsletter that the Council retitled the committee "Committee on Women's Affairs." At the Business Meeting at the 1978 annual meeting, John Wallace, chairman of the Microbiology & Immunology Department at the University of Louisville, voiced concerns that "problems of minorities no long exist or would not longer be considered by the committee."

Dr. Wallace stated that he "equated the problem of other minority groups with those of Blacks, and he was concerned that a dilution of efforts would result if each minority group was going to be the charge of a separate committee." At their October 1978 meeting, the Council agreed to the established a "new committee responsible for minority group members."

The Committee on Minority Affairs first met in September 1979 and "defined a variety of approaches for achieving greater visibility of minority individuals in the AAI and in the biological sciences." Further: 

Short-range approaches would involve 1) greater representation of minority members in the program of the annual meetings, on the Journal of Immunology, and on other committees. The AAI Council has agreed to give this its consideration, 2) election of a larger number of minority indivdiduals to AAI membership. The requires the cooperation of the AAI membership to indemnify and nominate for membership individuals who are working in laboratories throughout the country. As an intermediate approach, the Committee is in the process of planning a series of lectures primarily for minority colleges and institutions to which the AAI Council has agreed to lend support. Minority members who wish to participate in this effort are asked to contact the AAI Office or Dr. Wallace directly. As a long range approach, the Committee plans to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Labor which has shown an interest in supporting a program similar to an existing one at the University of Kentucky wherein, with CETA funds of 1/2 million dollars, three to five sophomore and junior high school students are placed in laboratories, offices and clinics on a daily basis for two hours during the school year and six hours during the summer. It is hoped thereby to create a pool of quality students who will be interested in entering research. Dr. Wallace invited all individuals interested in this program to have their department chairmen affair that interest by contact him either directly of through the AAI Office.

The first members of the Committee on Minority Affairs (now called Minority Affairs Committee) were:

  • John H. Wallace (AAI 1958), chair
  • Edwin L. Cooper (AAI 1972)
  • Edgar E. Hanna, Jr.  (AAI 1972)
  • Raymond N. Hiramoto (AAI 1961)
  • Howard M. Johnson (AAI 1969)
  • Curla S. Walters (AAI 1973)


Today, the nine-member Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) is responsible for generating and developing programs that assure equal treatment of all professional immunologists on the basis of merit. To learn more about the MAC, click here.

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