Black History Month: Psychologist Dr. Kenneth Clark


    As we come to the end of February (aka Black History Month), I want to highlight an African American individual who advanced the field of psychology. There are many Black professionals who have advanced field of mental health, but I thought that for today, I would celebrate one person in particular:

Dr. Kenneth Clark (1914-2005)

Dr. Clark was an African American man with many accomplishments. One of his accomplishments includes being the first African American man to get a doctoral degree from Columbia University. He was also the first African American tenured professor at the City College of New York. If these two accomplishments weren't impressive enough, he also was the first African American president of the American Psychological Association and the first African American appointed to the New York State Board of Regents. He was clearly an intelligent and determined man. 

Dr. Clark additionally created a study which revolutionized the field. Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife Dr. Mamie Clark did a study called the "Doll Study". They studied more than 200 Black children who were given a choice of white or brown dolls. The children showed a preference for the white dolls and gave these dolls positive characteristics. They concluded that segregation, discrimination, and prejudice was psychologically damaging. This created a feeling of inferiority of African American children and lowered their self-esteem. This study was used in the the Supreme Court decision in outlawing segregation.

Of course there is much more to learn about Kenneth Clark! I only highlighted some of his important contributions. But it is clear, that he not only advanced the field of psychology, but also American society. 

I hope that we can be encouraged by Dr. Kenneth Clark. We can learn to use our knowledge and skills to create a better world. I hope that you are encouraged by this because I know that you are going to do great things!


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