Clark, Kenneth Bancroft

Clark, Kenneth Bancroft (1914-2005) was an American psychologist and educator. He became known for his pioneering studies of the harmful effects of segregation, especially the effects of school segregation on African American and white students, and for his lifelong efforts to promote racial equality and racial justice in America.

Clark was born in 1914 in the Panama Canal Zone to Arthur and Miriam Clark. His mother immigrated with him and his sister Beulah to the United States, where she became a labor organizer in New York City. In the 1930's, Clark attended Howard University, an African American university in Washington, D.C. At Howard, he was profoundly influenced by a community that believed in the potential of racial equality in America, and he was inspired to social activism. In 1938. Clark married Mamie Phipps, who published with him a series of studies on identity and race.


In 1940, Clark received his Ph.D. degree in psychology from Columbia University. He later taught at several institutions, including Virginia's Hampton Institute and the City University of New York, where he taught from 1942 to 1975. He gained national recognition in 1954, when his 1950 report on the harmful effects of segregation was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown us. Board of Education. In its landmark decision, the court ruled that “separate but equal” public schools for blacks were actually unequal and therefore unconstitutional.

Throughout his life, Clark worked for the civil rights of African Americans. He received many awards for his contributions to society and served as a consultant to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His many publications include Prejudice and Your Child (1955), Dark Ghetto (1965), and Pathos of Power (1974).

Clark died on May 1, 2005, in New York.