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Sat, 09.26.1942

Gloria Cecelia Ray Karlmark, Chemist, Educator, and Activist born

Gloria Cecelia Ray Karlmark

*Gloria Cecelia Ray Karlmark was born on this date in 1942. She is a Black chemist, educator, and member of the Little Rock Nine.

Born in Little Rock, she was one of the three children of Harvey C. and Julia Miller Ray; she was 15 when she attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, where she was barred from entering by the Arkansas National Guard under the order of Governor Orval Faubus who opposed integration. They returned to the school weeks later, protected by federal troops. The Little Rock Nine were escorted by the 101st airborne division of the U.S. Army into Little Rock’s Central High School to attend classes. In 1958 Karlmark and the Little Rock Nine received the Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

1965 she graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics. She was a public school teacher and research assistant at the University of Chicago Research Medical Center. Ray married Krister Karlmark in 1966, and in 1970, she joined International Business Machines (IBM) Nordic Laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, where she was a systems analyst and technical writer. In 1976 she cofounded the journal Computers in Industry, serving as the editor-in-chief until 1991. Karlmark graduated from Kungliga Patent & Registreringsverket in Sweden as a patent attorney, and from 1977 until 1981, she worked for IBM International Patent Operations.

From 1976 to 1994, Karlmark founded and was editor-in-chief of Computers in Industry, an international journal of computer applications in industry. In 1994, Karlmark worked in the Netherlands for Philips Telecommunications in Hilversum and, later, for Philips Lighting in Eindhoven. She and her husband have two children. In 1998, Karlmark and the other members of the Little Rock Nine were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of “selfless heroism.”

Karlmark has concerns about racism in the United States and now resides in Sweden and the Netherlands. In 2019, Karlmark received an Honorary Doctor of Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology for outstanding contributions to developing a more inclusive society.

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