Mamie Clark Essay

1738 words - 7 pages

I chose Mamie Phipps Clark to write a biography because of her contributions to Psychology as we know it today. Mamie was an African-American Psychologist who made a significant impact on developmental psychology. Mamie received distinguised alumni awards from both Howard and Columbia Universities. She also received honorary doctorate degrees from Williams College and the Pratt Institute and a noted fellowship award from the American Association of University Women for her research on the psychological effects of racism and segregation. Her contributions stimulated racial desegregation in education in order to improve the lives of minorities.Mamie Phipps Clark was born Mamie Katherine Phipps. She was born in 1917 and died in 1983. She was the eldest of two children born to Harold H. and Katie F. Phipps in Hot Springs, Arkansas where Mamie attended racially segregated elementary and secondary schools. She graduated Pine Bluff's Lanston High School in 1934 at the age of 16. After High School, Mamie enrolled in Howard University to major in Mathematics and Physics.After her first year at Howard University, Mamie met her future husband, Kenneth Bancroft Clark, who influenced her to change her major to Psychology due to her interest in children. She was enrolled into the Psychology program by Francis Cecil Sumner who was Kenneth's mentor at the time and head of the psychology department. Because of her academic scholarships, it was arranged for her allotment to go towards part-time employment in the Psychology department.Mamie graduated, magna cum laude, in 1938 and received a B.S. degree from Howard University. That summer, she received a secretarial position in the law office of William Houston. There, she was able to witness the legal strategies for the civil rights cases which opposed the laws which allowed segregation, including those which lead to the repeal of Plessy v. Ferguson. This newly acquired experience had a significant impact on Mamie and stimulated her desire to perform research.In 1938, Mamie enrolled in the graduate program at Howard University. A visit to an all-black nursery school in Washington lead to her employment there, which would prepare her for the research necessary for her master's degree. That same year, Mamie became married to Kenneth Clark. Kenneth suggested that she go to New York and talk to Ruth and Gene Horowitz (Hartley) because the were conducting a developmental research study with preschool children. The research involved studying self-identification in nursery school children using line drawings of white and black children. In participation of this study, Mamie suggested that they use more black children in their research. Her participation in this research project, along with her access to black children at the nursery school, inspired her master's thesis entitled, The Development of Consciousness of Self in Negro Pre-School Children. This was a challenging research experience for her because she discovered...

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