Blackipedia is a weekly CASSIUS feature that takes a fun approach to exploring Black history, slang, and culture. For the month of May (#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth), we’re honoring Black and brown mental health pioneers. Get ready to learn something—and tell a friend!
Mamie Phipps Clark
[mey-mee fips klahrk ]
- Mamie Phipps Clark—late wife of social psychologist, educator and human rights activist Kenneth Bancroft Clark—was also a social psychologist who, alongside Kenneth, studied how self-consciousness developed in Black preschool children. She is known for her master’s thesis, titled “The Development of Consciousness of Self in Negro Pre-school Children,” in which she studied African-American preschool youth in Arkansas while working toward her Howard master’s degree.
- Her study’s findings revealed that Black children of preschool age who attended segregated schools preferred playing with white dolls over Black dolls as a consequence of internalized racism. The study also played a significant role in the Brown vs. Board of Education court case by illustrating how racial segregation affected school children.
- In 1946, Mamie and Kenneth opened the Northside Center for Child Development, which was “the first full-time child guidance center offering psychological and casework services to families in the Harlem area,” writes the APA. Together, the Clarks contributed greatly to both the field of psychology and the Civil Rights movement before Mamie died in 1983 at the age of 66.
To Learn More:
Mamie Clark Dies; Psychologist Aided Blacks (New York Times)
Mamie Phipps Clark, PhD, and Kenneth Clark, PhD (American Psychological Association)