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8 Inspiring Black Pioneers in Mental Health to Know


Over the years, black mental health experts have consistently improved mental health research, advocacy, and treatment. Their works and findings have brought positive change in culturally competent care for black communities and the world at large. Here are eight inspiring black pioneers in mental health you should know.

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Solomon Carter Fuller 

Story of Solomon Carter Fuller. Video Credit: Very Local YouTube Channel

Born on 11 August 1872 in Monrovia, Liberia, Solomon Carter Fuller was a pioneering Liberian psychiatrist, neurologist, professor, and pathologist. Solomon Carter Fuller completed his college education and medical degree in the United States.

He studied psychiatry in Germany and later moved back to the United States, where he worked at Westborough State Hospital. In 1919, Fuller joined the Boston University School of Medicine’s faculty, where he taught pathology.

Fuller contributed to the study of Alzheimer’s disease during his career days. 

Get one or two Solomon Carter Fuller books on Amazon to learn more about one of the black pioneers in mental health and his works.

Francis Cecil Sumner, Ph.D.

Francis Cecil Sumner Profile. Video Credit: Chicago Compass Counseling LLC YouTube Channel

Popularly called the “Father of Black Psychology,” Francis Cecil Sumner, Ph.D., was a black American leader in education reform. He was the first black person to receive a doctorate degree in psychology in 1920.

During  Francis Cecil Sumner’s time at Clark University, he worked closely with G. Stanley Hall. He published a dissertation in the Pedagogical Seminary that focused on “Psychoanalysis of Freud and Adler”. The dissertation later became the Journal of Genetic Psychology.

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Inez Beverly Prosser, Ph.D.

About Inez Beverly Prosser. Video Credit: Psy vs. Psy YouTube

Born on December 30, 1895, in San Marcos, Texas, Inez Beverly Prosser was a psychologist, school administrator, and teacher. She’s commonly known as the first black American woman to receive a Ph.D. in psychology. 

Inez Beverly Prosser’s work was influential in the hallmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. She grew up in Texas and attended Prairie View Normal College, the University of Colorado, and the University of Cincinnati. Sadly, Prosser died in a car accident shortly after receiving her doctorate.

Joseph L. White, Ph.D.

Discussion with Joseph L. White. Video Credit: @UCIrvineLibraries YouTube Channel

A native of Minnesota, Joseph L. White, is commonly referred to as the “father” of Black psychology. He’s Psychiatry, professor emeritus of Psychology and Comparative Culture at the University of California Irvine.

At the University, Joseph L. White served as assistant vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Director of the African American Studies Program. In 1961, he earned his doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychology from Michigan State University.

He’s also a mentor to many students and professionals and the founding member of the Association of Black Psychologists. Throughout Joseph L. White’s career, he worked tirelessly to support and mentor African-American students. 

His books are available on Amazon’s online marketplace. You can get them to learn more about him and his work. 

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Maxie Clarence Maultsby, Jr, M.D.

Born on April 24, 1932, in Pensacola, Florida, United States, Maxie Clarence Maultsby Jr. was a black American psychiatrist. He authored many books on emotional and behavioral self-management, including “Help Yourself to Happiness” and “Rational Behavior Therapy Rational Behavior Therapy.”

Maxie Clarence Maultsby Jr. was also an Elected Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. At Howard University[4] in Washington D.C., he was an Emeritus Professor.

E. Kitch Childs, Ph.D

E. Kitch Childs Highlight Presentation. Video Credit: @sssesapsychology1019 YouTube Channel

Dr. E. Kitch Childs was an African American lesbian activist and clinical psychologist. She was primarily known for advocating for minority women, gays and lesbians, and prostitutes. 

E. Kitch Childs was also popular for her involvement in the women’s liberation movement in North America. She was the first black woman to earn a doctorate degree in Human Development. Additionally, Dr. E. Kitch Childs was one of the members of the University of Chicago’s Gay Liberation.

Beverly Greene, Ph.D. 

Dr. Beverly Greene Presentation. Video Credit: @RutgersU YouTube Channel

Born in 1950 in East Orange, New Jersey, Beverly Greene is a professor in the Department of Psychology at St. John’s University. She’s a clinical psychologist popular for her work on sexism and racism. 

Beverly Greene is an expert in the psychology of women and racial issues in the practice of psychotherapy. She has developed several public health frameworks for understanding mental health in under-represented communities. 

She’s vitally involved in the Society for the Psychology of Women and the Association for Women in Psychology. In 2008, Beverly Greene was among the sixteen women to have received the Distinguished Publication Award (DPA) from the Association for Women in Psychology. 

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt TED Talks

Jennifer Eberhardt is a social psychologist who’s presently a professor in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. She has largely contributed to the investigation of the consequences of the psychological association between race and crime. Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt also contributed to research on unconscious bias. 

The results from research have been used to train state agencies and law enforcement officers to better understand their judgments through implicit bias training. She authored “Biased”, and was a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship in 2014. You can buy her book on Amazon to learn about her work. 

Many African Americans have contributed significantly to the mental health field. Their research and work have been overlooked for a long time. The eight African Americans covered here are the black pioneers in mental health you should know. 

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Uchenna Agwu
Uchenna Agwu
Hi there! I’m Uchenna Agwu, and I love to write. When I’m not writing, you can usually find me reading books or watching documentaries (I’m a bit of a nerd). But I also like to get out and explore – whether that means going on hikes or checking out new restaurants.


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