Kenneth B. Clark
Born Kenneth Bancroft Clark, July 14, 1914, in the Panama Canal Zone, Panama, He died of cancer on May 1, 2005, in Hastings-On-Hudson, New York. Psychologist. Dr. Kenneth Clark, a strong advocate for integration, used four dolls, two black and two white, to document the perception of African American children. His findings were part of several key elements that led to the United States Supreme Court ruling that his doctrine of seclusion was unconstitutional. This decision marked the start of a new era of integration. Justice Robert Carter, part of the legendary team of lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color (NAACP) who argued the case before the United States Supreme Court, told the Los Angeles Times: “His work was vital to us and crucial to victory.… He was a true American icon, a sage man.” Clark continued tirelessly to work on the integration and improvement of schools for all minorities and needy children. Although there have been many gains, the changes have never been in the speed or quantity he expected.
Clark was born in the Panama Canal area on July 14, 1914. His father, Arthur Bancroft Clark, worked for the United Fruit Company as a travel agent. Her mother, Miriam Hanson Clark, thought her children would have better educational opportunities in the United States. Clark’s parents did not agree to return. The couple divorced, and Miriam transferred their son and daughter to New York.
The family moved to Harlem, and Clark began attending public school 5. He quickly moved to P.S. 139, the same school where Renaissance poet Harlem Countee Cullen taught, and author James Baldwin. When Clark entered grade nine, a counselor advised him to enter vocational school. When Miriam Clark found out, she went to school and unequivocally told the advisor that she would not be moving to New York so that her son could work at the factory.
Instead, Clark entered George Washington High School, an elite college school in Upper Manhattan. After graduation, he enrolled at Howard University. He wanted to specialize in economics, but after taking a psychology course that helped him better understand racism, he moved on to psychology. Clark also convinced his future wife, Mamie Phipps, to change his specialty in psychology.
Clark obtained his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1935 and his master’s degree a year later. During this time, he worked as an assistant professor of psychology at Howard. His wife began fieldwork on the effects of racial identity on the self-esteem of black people. He soon joined him in this effort. They have published their results in several journals.
Research and Publications
The couple moved to Harlem and enrolled for a doctorate at Columbia University. Clark earned a doctorate in psychology, the first black person to do so at university, and began teaching at the Hampton Institute in Virginia. He stayed there for a year and began collaborating with Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal and his former professor, Ralph Bunche, who would later win the Nobel Peace Prize. The team worked on a Carnegie race relations study. The findings were published as “The American Dilemma of 1944” would become compulsory reading in many American colleges and universities. U.U.
Clark and his wife continued to study the effects of discrimination. They used four dolls, two black and two white, all identical, to measure how the children feel about the color of their skin. Dozens of children have been tested in Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Worcester, Massachusetts, and rural Arkansas. Most, in black and white, said that white dolls are beautiful and that everyone likes to play with them. Most also said that black babies were bad; Most black children are identified with black toys. The couple took the results and published them in the book Prejudice and Your Child in 1953. Clark concluded that black children are considered inferior because society has deprived them of the color of their skin.
Clark’s investigation caught the eye of Robert Carter, a lawyer who tried to dismantle segregated schools in South Carolina and was also part of the NAACP legal team. Clark used a puppet test on children from Clarendon County, South Carolina. His results were the same. Carter convinced Thurgood Marshall, Attorney General of the NAACP, to use Clark’s findings in this case. Many in the NAACP were skeptical, but Marshall agreed. When the judgments in Brown Vs. The Board of Education concluded that the doctrine of “distinct but egalitarian” segregation was unconstitutional, President Earl Warren cited Clark’s conclusions as to the fundamental role of judges in their end. He told the Washington Post: “The court has clearly understood this … The racist system inevitably destroys and damages human beings; it brutalizes and dehumanizes them, whether black or white.”
Meanwhile, Clark began his profession at New York City College, where he taught psychology. He and his wife also established the Northside Center for Child Development, where they treated children with personality disorders. Although they did not receive payment from most of their patients, the Center was a great success.
Clark believed that the new Supreme Court decision would cause a radical change in the United States, but that was not the case. During the 1950s and 1960s, he attacked the New York public school system by allowing segregation to continue. An investigation took place, and he supported his allegations. Clark has been appointed to head the school board committee to ensure that the schools are fully integrated. When this did not succeed, he insisted that the school system be decentralized, but that the schools continue to fail.
Clark founded Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Haryou) to help reorganize schools in Harlem. The group also wanted to start a preschool program and after-school recovery classes. The group has drawn national attention and is expected to receive $ 110 million in aid. Unfortunately, to receive state funding, Haryou had to join community teams, led by Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. He and Clark never met in person, and the financing was lost. Although dismayed, Clark continued his fight to integrate schools and update the New York public school system. However, when it comes to educating his children, he decided to move to Hastings-On-Hudson in Westchester County, New York, so that they could get a better education.
In the late 1960s, Clark was elected to the New York State Board of Regents, becoming the first African American to be elected to this committee. In 1975, he retired from City College in New York to start a human resources consulting firm with his family. He then published books, including the 1967 Black Ghetto, the 1969 War on Poverty, and the 1974 Pathos of Power.
Clark was asked to help change the school system in Washington, D.C., but when most of his plan was rejected, he resigned. He retired from the Board of Regents in 1986. Throughout his career, Clark has fought conservatives, black separatists, and other community leaders who have given up the fight for integration. Thanks to her hard work, the NAACP has given her the highest distinction, the Spingarn Medal, for her contribution to improving race relations.
Clark suffered from cancer and succumbed to the disease on May 1, 2005, at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. He was 90 years old. He was preceded in death by his wife in 1983. One daughter, Kate, survives him; her son Hilton; Three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.