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Mamie Phipps Clarkand Kenneth Bancroft Clark (July 24, 1914May 1, 2005) (1917-1983)and were a husband-and-wife team of African American psychologists who founded the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem and the organization Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU). They were known for their 1940s experiments using dolls to study children's attitudes about race, which grew out of Mamie Clark's master's degree thesis.

The Clarks testified as expert witnesses in Briggs v. Elliott, one of the cases that were later combined into the famous Brown v. Board of Education, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned racial segregation in public education.

Mamie Clark

Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African American woman (and only second African American after her husband) to receive a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University in 1943.

Family

The Clarks' son Hilton was a leader of the Society of Afro-American Students during protests at Columbia University in 1968.

The doll experiments

The Clarks' doll experiments grew out of Mamie's master's degree thesis and yielded 3 papers between 1939 and 1940. They found that Black children often preferred to play with white dolls over black; that, asked to fill in a human figure with the color of their own skin they frequently chose a lighter shade than was accurate, and that they viewed white as good and pretty, but black as bad and ugly.[1] They viewed this as evidence of internalized racism caused by stigmatization.

The Clarks testified as expert witnesses in several school desegregation cases including Briggs v. Elliott, one of the cases that were later combined into the famous Brown v. Board of Education, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned racial segregation in public education. According to Woody Klein's Toward Justice and Humanity: The Writings of Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, Scholar of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision, this was the first time the Court ever admitted social science studies as hard evidence.

Quotes

  • "I think that whites and blacks should be taught to respect their fellow human beings as an integral part of being educated."
  • "A racist system inevitably destroys and damages human beings; it brutalizes and dehumanizes them, blacks and whites alike."
  • From a 1984 New York Times interview: "I believed in the 1950s that a significant percentage of Americans were looking for a way out of the morass of segregation. It was wishful thinking."
  • "It took me 10 to 15 years to realize that I seriously underestimated the depth and complexity of Northern racism. ... In the South, you could use the courts to do away with separate toilets and all that nonsense. We haven’t found a way of dealing with discrimination in the North."

Books

  • Prejudice and Your Child (1955)
  • Dark Ghetto (1965)
  • A Possible Reality (1972)
  • Pathos of Power (1975)

References

  1. Segregation Ruled Unequal, and Therefore Unconstitutional, in Psychology Matters, American Psychological Association. Undated. Accessed 15 July 2006.
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