Cassius Life Featured Video

Source: Utamaru Kido / Getty

Blackipedia is a weekly CASSIUS feature that takes a fun approach to exploring Black history, slang, and culture. In May (#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth), we’re honoring Black and brown mental health pioneers. Get ready to learn something—and tell a friend!  

Francis Cecil Sumner

[fran-sis ses-uh l suhm-ner]


  • Francis Cecil Sumner, the “Father of Black Psychology,” was a leader in education reform. He was one of the pioneering Black scholars at Howard University who, alongside Kenneth Bancroft Clark, contributed to the strides made within the civil rights movement in the late 1920s and 1930s. Fun fact: Clark considered him as his “intellectual father.”

  • Sumner became known as the “Father of Black Psychology” after becoming the first African American to receive a Ph.D. degree in the subject. He was also a professor at many universities and published several articles, despite the challenges he faced as a Black man within the field.
  • Along with being a participant of the civil rights movement while at Howard University, Sumner is also credited as one of the founders of the historically Black institution’s psychology department, “which he chaired from 1928 until his death in 1954,” according to the American Psychological Association.

To Learn More:

Early African American Psychologists (

Featured Psychologists: Francis Cecil Sumner (American Psychological Association)