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Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark: The Dolls Test









Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark was a pioneering psychologist known for her groundbreaking research on the effects of racial segregation on children. Born on April 18, 1917, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from Howard University. She later earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University, becoming one of the first Black women to earn a doctoral degree in psychology from an American university.


Dr. Clark is best known for her work with her husband, Dr. Kenneth Clark. Together, they conducted the "doll tests," a series of experiments that investigated the psychological effects of segregation on African-American children. In these tests, children were presented with identical dolls, differing only in skin color, and were asked to express their preferences. The Clarks found that the majority of children preferred the white dolls over the black dolls, indicating internalized racial bias and the damaging effects of segregation on self-esteem and identity.


Their research played a crucial role in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The Clarks' findings provided empirical evidence of the harmful impact of segregation on children, influencing the court's decision to overturn the "separate but equal" doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).


Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark's work contributed significantly to our understanding of the psychological consequences of racism and segregation, and she remains an influential figure in the fields of psychology and civil rights.




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