An Architect of Social Change
Kenneth B. Clark
Dr. Kenneth B. Clark's and Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark's studies of the effects of racial segregation on African Americans' self-concept and educational outcomes were used in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education to outlaw racial segregation in public schools. Kenneth Clark also developed HARYOU (Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited) in the 1960s, the first program to address the effects of urban racial segregation on African American young people. Dr. Kenneth Clark has been one of the nation's foremost proponents of racial desegregation and has written and lectured extensively on race relations.
Dr. Francis Cecil Sumner, chairman of the psychology department at Howard University during the 1930s, was the specific influence on my becoming a psychologist. Dr. Alain Locke in philosophy was another important influence. 1 My academic interests were in social psychology, literature, and philosophy. I cannot say that there were any specific readings that influenced me. I read widely and all of it had an impression on me. The things that I read were all integrated into my mind. After receiving my bachelor's degree, I remained at Howard to complete a master's degree in psychology and was encouraged by Sumner and Locke to go on for the doctorate. I applied to Cornell and Columbia—two universities with distinguished psychology departments. Cornell declined my application. The letter stated that I would be “uncomfortable with their program”—not for academic reasons but rather because of my race. I guess they thought they were doing me a favor. I will never forget it. Fortunately, Columbia's psychology department did not see it that way. I was admitted, and the late Otto Klineberg became my major adviser.
I experienced no barriers in my work as a graduate student at Columbia in the 1930s. My professors were very supportive and influential in my