One of Saturday's plenary sessions--"An American legacy: 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education"--will remember May 17, 1954, the day the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision that segregated, "separate-but-equal" public schools were unconstitutional.
Writing for the unanimous court, Chief Justice Earl Warren cited the work of psychologists Kenneth B. Clark, PhD, and Isador Chein, PhD, as important sources of the court's decision. Clark, Chein and Stuart Cook, PhD, prepared the 1952 amicus curiae Social Science Statement that alerted the Supreme Court to relevant psychological research in the case.
The Supreme Court's decision and the civil rights movement that it contributed to led to profound changes in American life and, indeed, in American psychology. The current emphases on the importance of identity and the need for multicultural awareness date back to the early research conducted by Clark and his wife, Mamie Clark, PhD, and other psychologists in the Brown case. This special plenary session will honor the work of Kenneth and Mamie Clark and their legacy.
The participants include:
M. Brewster Smith, PhD, a former APA president and signer of the Social Science Statement.
Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the "Little Rock Nine"--the group of African-American teenagers who faced a hostile mob in 1957 when they entered Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and became the first African-American students to attend school there.
Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, PhD, of Emory University's division of educational studies and an expert on contemporary African-American education. She will contrast African-American education in 1954 with African-American education in 2004.
John P. Jackson Jr., PhD, of the University of Colorado and America's leading historian of the role of social scientists in the legal system. He will provide the historical context.
Video of former APA president Kenneth B. Clark discussing his research and his role in Brown v. Board of Education.
Open discussion will follow the presentations, and audience members will be encouraged to ask questions and make comments about the legacy of Kenneth and Mamie Clark.
--W. PICKRENWade Pickren, PhD, is APA's historian and director of APA's Archives.