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Mamie Phipps Clark

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Amanda Donlon

on 5 March 2015

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Transcript of Mamie Phipps Clark

Board of Directors for the American Broadcasting Company, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Union Dime Savings Bank, Museum of Modern Art, Teachers College of Columbia University, Phelps Stokes Fund, New York Mission Society, Institute of Museum Collaborative

Served on several advisory groups including Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited and the National Headstart Planning Committee

Lectured at many colleges and visiting professor at Yeshiva University

Raised two children Kate (b. 1940)
and Hilton (b. 1943)

Devoted wife to Kenneth for 44 years until her death in 1983
Mamie Phipps Clark
Early Life
Born April 18, 1917 in Hot Springs, Alabama

The eldest of two children born to Harold H. and Katherine F. Phipps

Attended elementary and secondary education in small racially segregated town
Education and Early Influences
Findings on her doctoral research related to black children's awareness of their racial identity between the ages of 3 and 4 were published in several articles and textbooks

Consciousness of skin color in children ages 3 to 7 the Clarks worked together
Children given drawings of a leaf, an apple, an orange, a mouse, a boy, and a girl
Children asked to color boy and girl
All black children with very light skin colored the child accurately
A significant portion of children with medium to dark brown skin colored their own figure with either a white or yellow crayon or some with a bizarre color such as red or green
"An indication of emotional anxiety and conflict in terms of their own skin... because they wanted to be white they pretended to be." (K. Clark, 1988)
Graduate Education
Doctoral Education 1939 - 1943 :

1939 began Ph.D. in Psychology at
Columbia University

Only black student in the department

Chose Henry E. Garrett as her dissertation
“Changes in Primary Mental Abilities with Age."

1943 graduated with Ph.D. from Columbia University

First Black female doctoral psychology graduate from Columbia University

Fall 1938 enrolled in Howard University for master's degree

Interest in developmental psychology grew

The Development of Consciousness of Self in Negro Preschool Children
Paved way for increase in research into areas of self-esteem and self-concept
The Doll Study 1940s
Children (ages 3 to 7) were shown four dolls made of the same case and dressed alike; 2 White and 2 Black

Children asked various questions:
"Which doll do you like?"
"Which doll is ugly? Pretty?"

A majority of the children preferred the White doll
and gave it positive attributes
The Clarks concluded that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” created a feeling of inferiority among African-American children and damaged their self-esteem
Impact of Doll Study
Brown vs. the Board of Education:

"Citing the Doll Study, the Supreme Court declared that separate but equal in education was unconstitutional because it resulted in African American kids having “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community"

The Doll Study has been repeated more recently
Dumbest Child: "76% of White Children pointed to the 2 Darkest skin tones"
Mean Child: "66% of White Children pointed to the 2 Darkest skin tones"
Skin Tone Kids Don't Want: "66% of White Children pointed to the 2 Darkest skin tones"
Bad Child "59% of White Children pointed to the 2 Darkest skin tones"
Career Post Doctorate
Difficult to gain employment as a Black woman in the 1940s

1944 (3 months) American Public Health Association analyzing research data - humiliating

1945 United States Armed Forces Institute as a research psychologist for one year

Riverdale Home for Children in New York as a psychologist - lack of resources for Black and minority children

1946 established the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem with her husband - offered integrated care to minority children (1946 - 1979)
Multiple Roles
Historical Context
1939 of the 2,318 APA members only 688 were women

62.4% women employed in non academic positions

Majority of female psychologists worked in schools, clinics, and hospitals rather than university or research centers

1920 - 1966 only 8 psychology doctorates awarded to Black individuals (2 being the Clarks)

History of psychology: the contributions of Kenneth B. and Mamie Phipps Clark. (2002). American Psychologist, 57(1), 19.

John Boman, E. (2001). Mamie Phipps Clark (1917-83). Cambridge Dictionary Of American Biography, 1.

Lal, S. (2002). Giving children security: Mamie Phipps Clark and the racialization of child psychology.
American Psychologist, 57
(1), 20-28. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.57.1.20

O'Connell, A. N., & Russo, N. F. (1990). Women in psychology: A bio-bibliographic sourcebook. New York, NY, England: Greenwood Press.
At age 16 enrolled in Howard University
Intended to major in Mathematics and Physics initially
Met future husband Kenneth Clark
Changed major to Psychology
1938 B.S. Psychology - Magna Cum Laude

Secretary Law Office of William Houston
Exposed to work on early civil rights cases and segregation laws
Developed sensitivity for research that could assist in providing better understanding of the psychological effects of racial segregation
Full transcript