Introduction to the AASC Initiative on African American Psychologists
As you may know, the Oxford African American Studies Center, is a resource with thousands of encyclopedia-style articles on the lives and experiences of African Americans. Recently, we proposed to the editors of the AASC a new initiative to add short biographies of African Americans in the field of psychology. It has now been over a century since Dr. Francis Sumner became the first African American to earn a doctorate in psychology. Since then, Black scholars have made influential and pathbreaking contributors to his field. In our collaboration with AASC, we aim to highlight this history.
There are several reasons why this initiative is important. First, no comprehensive coverage currently exists of outstanding African Americans in psychology across the many sub-fields and activities of discipline and across generations. Second, since many of the trailblazing African American psychologists are elderly or are deceased, it is important to have a prominent and accessible record of their intellectual tradition. Third, in addition to its historical value, this initiative can serve to inspire future generations of Black psychologists and Black youth, the latter who might subsequently identify psychology as viable career path—as scientists, educators, practitioners, administrators and beyond. Finally, it is important that the larger society recognizes that African American psychologists have been centrally involved in the advancement of the discipline of psychology and many other areas of human endeavor.
Norman B. Anderson
Professor in the College of Social Work Florida State University
Helen A. Neville
Professor of Educational Psychology and African American Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
William Cross, Jr.
Jessica Henderson Daniel
The Association of Black Psychologists
Anderson (A.) J. Franklin