Throughout Black History Month, our nation honors African Americans who have made great contributions to our country.
Healthy Minds Therapy would like to take the opportunity to highlight Black pioneers in the mental health field who have made significant contributions to the treatment of mental illness and addiction this month.
10 Black Mental Health Professionals
Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D. And Kenneth Bancroft Clark, Ph.D.
Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University.
Dr. Kenneth Clark was the first-ever black president of the American Psychological Association.
The Clarks are best known for the famous “Doll Study” in which more than 200 Black children participated. Both Mamie and Kenneth Clark worked on this study, providing invaluable evidence in favor of ending school segregation in the supreme court case Brown vs. The Board of Education citing that school segregation was psychologically harmful to black children.
Bebe Moore Campbell
Linda James Myers, Ph.D.
Francic Cecil Sumner, Ph.D.
Dr. Sumner was accepted into Clark University’s doctoral psychology program but was then drafted to serve in WWI. Upon his return, he re-enrolled and his dissertation was accepted. Dr. Sumner struggled to get his research published because of the color of his skin. He persisted nonetheless and was able to publish several articles.
He is also one of the founding members of the Howard University Psychology Department.
E. Kitch Childs, Ph.D.
E. Kitch Childs, Ph.D. was a prominent clinical psychologist and advocate of gay and lesbian human rights legislation since 1973. She was a feminist, lesbian activist, and founding member of the Association for Women in Psychology. Dr. Childs worked to revise the American Psychological Association’s attitude toward homosexuality.
She was a founding member of Chicago’s Gay Liberation Front. Childs also owned her own practice in which she provided therapy to LGBTQ+ folks, people living with HIV/AIDS, and other marginalized members of her community.
James P. comer, M.D., M.P.H.
James P. Comer is nationally and internationally known for his creation of the Comer School Development Program in 1968. This is an educational system that focused on child development in inner-city schools.
In 2014, Dr. Comer received a prestigious nomination by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Harriette Pipes McAdoo, Ph.D.
Dr. McAdoo worked with her husband, researcher John Lewis McAdoo, on the Family Life Project which studied Black families in the Washington, DC area with a focus on the middle-class.
Harriette McAdoo’s work on the Family Life Project earned her a spot in the White House Conference on Families, appointed by President Jimmy Carter.
Her research was some of the first work that challenged the widely-held and harmful racial stereotypes about Black families.
Robert Lee Williams II
Robert Lee Williams, II was the creator of the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity. This was an intelligence test specifically oriented towards Black experiences, language, and culture. The data collected from this test helped to shatter the notion that Black people had lower average intelligence than white people and showed, rather, that differences in previous IQ data were likely the result of speech and experiential differences skewing IQ test results in favor of white people.
Williams worked as a staff psychologist at Arkansas State Hospital, the first African-American psychologist to be hired at a state mental health facility in Arkansas. He later served as chief psychologist, at the Jefferson Barracks Veterans Affairs Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and a consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health.