Kelly Miller (1863-1939) was an educator, writer, and sociologist. He was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, to Kelly Miller, a free black, and Elizabeth Roberts Miller, an enslaved woman. Miller came to Howard University's Preparatory Department on scholarship, then graduated from Howard University in 1880 after working his way through school as a U.S. Government clerk. He studied advanced mathematics at Johns Hopkins University and is considered the nation's first black graduate student in mathematics. He taught math briefly at Preparatory High School for Negro Youth (later M Street High School) before being appointed to the Howard University faculty in 1890. In 1895 Miller added sociology to the university's curriculum. In 1901 he received an M.A. in math and in 1903 a law degree from Howard. In addition to teaching he also served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Miller promoted the teaching of sociology in part because sociology provided a framework for developing objective analyses of the American racial system. He saw these as a crucial weapon in the battle for civil rights. As part of this effort, he persuaded Rev. Jesse E. Moorland to donate his private library on Africans and people of African descent in the United States as the foundation for the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. Miller became a national leader during the conflict between the approaches of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. He also became an important spokesman against the rise of white supremacy and the efforts in Congress to disfranchise and deny civil rights to African Americans both locally and nationally. He effectively refuted claims by white sociologists that problems in black communities and families were genetically based. His column, "Kelly Miller Says," appeared in hundreds of newspapers around the nation.

Miller lived at 2225 Fourth Street until his death. His house was demolished in 1965 and replaced with Bethune Hall, a Howard University dormitory.


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