Professor Kenneth Clark’s Biography

Kenneth Clark is a psychologist who was born in the Panama Canal Zone. At the age of five, his parents divorced, and Miriam, his mother, took him and his younger sister, Beulah, to Harlem. According to Barker, “Kenneth played a key role in increasing understanding of racism, its impact on child development, and the dismantling of racist systems” (Barker and Ukpong 655). Mother became the shop’s steward of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union as a seamstress at the sweatshop. While Harlem’s ethnic variety was diminishing and his school was mainly black, Clark relocated to New York City. Clark, like were most black pupils at this time, was instructed to master a profession. However, Miriam looked for her child more and brought him to the George Washington High School in Upper Manhattan.

For the first time, Clark studied politics at the historically black university of Howard University. He worked under Mentor Francis Cecil Sumner, the first African American to obtain his Ph.D. in psychology, during his years at Howard University. He returned to psychology for a master’s; summer went to Columbia University to study with another significant mentor, Otto Klineberg, after completing his master’s degree. Clark researched racial relations with Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal, who published An American Dilemma and studied psychology for his Ph.D. degree at the University of Columbia. According to Stalnaker, “the work of Mamie and Kenneth Clark helped to pave the way for momentous legislation in the 1960s” (Stalnaker 2). Clark was the first Black Person to be received a Ph.D. in psychology at Columbia University. Kenneth Clark also was the first Black President of the American Psychological Association and a New York City College teacher.

Kenneth and his wife experimented with the coloring test to explore racial identification in African American children. Also, they wanted to examine how the color of the Negro kid and his feeling of race and position impacted his own opinion and self-worth. African American youngsters aged five to seven years received the coloring exam. A coloring paper was added to the youngsters with a sheet, an apple, an orange, a mouse, a boy, and a girl. They were given a pencil box to color the mouse first to make sure they understood the color-object link. If they succeed, they have been ordered to paint the color of the boy or girl. Then they needed to color the person of the opposite sex.

The Clarks classified the drawings into three categories: truth, fantasy answers, and non-relevant answers. The Clarks looked at the reality and what children painted and concluded that youngsters usually paint themselves much lighter than their actual color. The fantasy answers indicate youngsters seeking to escape their environment through wonders. Whether brown or black was the central portion of children, they frequently drew a lighter hue than the mouse. Generally, older children were more precise in judging how dark they are. When asked to color an image of the opposite sex, half of the children chose white or an unrelated color.

In summary, Clark was the first Black to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. Kenneth Clark was a teacher and professor at New York City College and the first Black president of the American Psychological Association. Thus, his contribution and presence in psychology are shown. His experiment with gender and color shows his concern about this issue. He asked to draw the children opposite to them and their skin color, which would emphasize the identification of children as individuals. Clark was interested in the topic of race and gender and therefore had a contribution to it.

Works Cited

Barker, Lori A., and Crystal Ukpong. “Clark, Kenneth, and Mamie.” The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Clinical, Applied, and Cross‐Cultural Research, edited by Bernardo J. Carducci et al., Wiley, 2020, pp. 655-660.

Stalnaker, Dean. “The Roots of Human Rights and the Role of Social Psychology.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2018, pp. 1-10, Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Professor Kenneth Clark's Biography." September 15, 2023.