Sampson was born in Jackson, MS. He received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1956. He later received a Master’s degree in engineering from University of California in 1961. He also received his MS in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Campaign in 1965 and his PhD in 1967, becoming the first African American to earn a PhD in that field.

On July 6, 1971, he was awarded a patent for a gamma-electrical cell, along with George H. Miley. This cell produces a stable high-voltage output and current to detect radiation in the ground from radiation sources, primarily gamma radiation, with goals of generating auxiliary power from the shielding of a nuclear reactor. He holds patents related to solid rocket motors and conversion of nuclear energy into electricity.

Sampson is also known as a writer. He has written Blacks in Black and White: A Sourcebook on Black Films, which traces the history of the black film industry.


(Courtesy Asante Foundation)