Kenneth Clark: Conference on Race and Identity

Kenneth Clark

Sarah Lawrence College hosted a conference on race and identity October 12-13, 2001, which brought together prominent African American psychologists. The conference, Race and Identity: Perspectives on American Society, was designed to clarify what we know about race and to assess its impact on American culture as well as the psychological make-up of American citizens. The conference honored the work of Kenneth Clark whose research on the development of self-consciousness and racial identification in Negro children played a crucial role in the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education. Dr. Clark was awarded an honorary doctorate by the College.

Kenneth Clark was the first African American to receive tenure at the City College of New York, to be elected president of the American Psychological Association, and to serve as a member of the New York State Board of Regents. Professor Clark gained a national reputation as the founder and director of Harlem's Northside Center for Child Development.

"This conference gives us a forum to rethink the question of race in American culture and at the same time to reassess the commitment of social psychology to this issue," said Gina Philgène, coordinator of the conference and member of the psychology faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. "Fifty years after the launching of a very long process aimed at desegregating the culture, it is appropriate for us to celebrate Kenneth Clark and to honor him for the crucial role he played in setting this process in motion."

"Black scholars in psychology have had a lot to say on the subject of race and each of the invited participants has made important contributions. However, they have not previously had a chance to share and discuss their work with each other in a formal conference setting," said Philogène.

The conference was sponsored by the American Psychological Association - Science Directorate, Sarah Lawrence College, and The Donald C. Samuel Fund for Economics and Politics.

At the opening on Friday, October 12 at 2 pm, Professor Clark was awarded an honorary degree by Sarah Lawrence College. This was followed by a short documentary film "A Journey to Little Rock" and a keynote address by anti-racist activist Jean Trickey who was one of the "Little Rock Nine."

Sponsored in part by The Donald C. Samuel Fund for Economics and Politics

Kenneth Clark - Progam of Panel Discussions
Conference | Panel Discussions | Bio

Friday, October 12, 2001
Opening comments 2:00PM-2:30PM

Gina Philogène (Sarah Lawrence College)
Michele Myers (Sarah Lawrence College)

Honoring Kenneth Clark  
Brief ceremony to honor and thank Professor Kenneth Clark for his contribution to psychology and our society as a whole.
Film screening "Journey to Little Rock"
Maria Shin (Northeast Productions)
Keynote address
Jean Trickey (Little Rock Nine, Anti-racist activist)
Coffee Break 3:30PM-4:00PM

Panel discussion: Creating an Identity
Chair: Linwood Lewis (Sarah Lawrence College)

Robert Sellers (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor)
"Being Black In America:" The Role of African American Racial Identity as a Coping Against Racial Discrimination.

William Cross (CUNY Graduate Center)
The Influence of Kenneth Clark's Work on the Development of the NigrescenceTheory.

Gina Philogene (Sarah Lawrence College)
The Interplay of Race and Culture

Claude Steele (Stanford University)
How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance

Discussion 6:00PM-6:45PM

October 13, 2001

Panel discussion: Racism and its Cultural Manifestations
Chair: Ferdinand Jones (Brown University)

James Jones (University of Delaware)
TRIOS: A Model for Coping with the Universal Context of Racism

James Jackson (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor)
From 'Dark Ghetto' to the National Survey of American Life: Context and the Social Psychology of Black Americans

Sandra Graham (University of California - Los Angeles)
Gender, Ethnicity, and the Development of Achievement Values

Jim Sidanius (University of California - Los Angeles)
The Interactive Interface between Gender and Ethnic Discrimination: A Social Dominance and Evolutionary Perspective

Discussion 11:30AM-12:15PM


Panel discussion: Our Common Destiny
Chair: Barbara Schecter (Sarah Lawrence College)


Thomas Pettigrew (University of California - Santa Cruz)
Racial Integration Today: Revisiting Kenneth Clark's Vision

Fathali Moghaddam (Georgetown University)
The Enigma of Third-World Change

Kay Deaux (CUNY Graduate Center)
Immigration and the Color Line

Fran Cherry (Carleton University)
A Life at the Center of Change: Kenneth Clark and Action Research.

Discussion 3:30PM-4:15PM

Coffee Break 4:15PM-4:45PM
General Discussion 4:45PM-5:30PM

Sponsored in part by The Donald C. Samuel Fund for Economics and Politics

Kenneth Clark: A Brief Biography
By Gina Philogene
Conference | Panel Discussions | Bio

Professor Kenneth Clark is one of America's towering figures in the social sciences. He rose to prominence in 1946 when, in the best Lewinian tradition of action-research, he founded the legendary Northside Child Development Center in Harlem. His work at the center led him to become the NAACP's psychological expert, a role that allowed him to argue convincingly that segregation was harmful to the self-image of people of African descent. His research was cited by the Supreme Court in justification of its landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to desegregate American public schools.

During the 1960's, Professor Clark became engaged in community activism in Harlem. As the founder and principal figure in the HARYOU-ACT program (an outgrowth of Northside) and the metropolitan Applied Research Center, his advocacy won the admiration of President Lyndon Johnson who quoted him as the model for the "war on poverty." This placed Clark at the center of the American discourses on race.

Professor Clark was the first African American to receive a permanent professorship at the City College of New York (1942-1975), to be a member of the New York State Board of Regents (1966-1986), and to serve as president of the American Psychological Association (1970-1971). In addition, he is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, winner of the NAACP's Spingard Medal (ion1961), and the Kurt Lewin Memorial Award by the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues.

His books include Prejudice and Your Child (1955), Dark Ghetto (1965), A Possible Reality (1972), Pathos of Power (1974), and The Negro American (coedited with Talcott Parsons in 1966).