Fifty years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling to integrate America's schools, the nation is taking a hard look at desegregation's impact. The topic dominates articles in the media and discussions among educators and researchers, including, of course, psychologists.
The fact that the research of educational psychologists Kenneth B. Clark, PhD, and Mamie Phipps Clark, PhD, played what many consider an influential role in the case (see pages 58 - 60) has only fueled many psychologists' interest in it. Among the special events and meetings commemorating Brown this year was the May conference "Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education: Social psychological research applied to the problems of racism and discrimination," held by the University of Kansas psychology department and co-sponsored by APA and APA's Div. 41 (American Psychology-Law Society).
More recently, APA's Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) chose a Brown-inspired theme, "From desegregation to diversity," for its 2004 5th Biennial Convention. In fact, the conference's honorary chair was Cheryl Brown Henderson, executive director of the Brown Foundation.
While the conference looked broadly at all forms of diversity, from racial and cultural to developmental and physical, many of its sessions focused on what Brown has meant for today's African-American students vis-à-vis majority students in the American education system. In the following pages, the Monitor relates what SPSSI speakers had to say about Brown's legacy.