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mahoganyanais
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Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 09:00 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

from the NYT...

Kenneth Clark, Who Helped End Segregation, Dies at 90
By RICHARD SEVERO

Published: May 2, 2005


Kenneth B. Clark, the psychologist and educator whose 1950 report
showing
the destructive effect of school segregation influenced the United
States
Supreme Court to hold school segregation to be unconstitutional, died
yesterday at
his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. He was 90.

His death was reported by his daughter, Kate C. Harris.

Dr. Clark was a leader in the civil rights movement that developed
after
World War II. He was the first black to earn a doctorate in psychology
from
Columbia University, the first to become a tenured instructor in the
City College
system of New York and, in 1966, the first black elected to the New
York
State Board of Regents.

He wrote several influential books and articles and used his
considerable
prestige in academic and professional circles and as a participant on
many
government bodies and Congressional committees to advance the cause of
integration. He battled white supremacists and black separatists alike
because he
believed that a "racist system inevitably destroys and damages human
beings; it
brutalizes and dehumanizes them, black and white alike."

It was his research with black schoolchildren that became a pillar of
Brown
v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that toppled
the
"separate but equal" doctrine of racial segregation that prevailed in
21 states.

While for decades Dr. Clark was one of the great national authorities
on
integration, his effect was particularly profound in New York City and
New York
State. Mayors and governors consulted him, and he expressed firm views
about
virtually every delicate racial matter from school busing to housing
discrimination.

He was often fearless and blunt about his views, and willing to change
them
when the empirical evidence led him to believe that his original
sentiments
were wrong. An early champion of a sweeping reorganization of New York
City
schools that gave greater control to community school boards, Dr.
Clark later
commented that "the schools are no better and no worse than they were
a decade
ago."

"In terms of the basic objective," he said, "decentralization did not
make a
damn bit of difference."

Dr. Clark, who grew up in New York, gained firsthand knowledge of the
effects of legally entrenched segregation in an extended visit, in the
early
1950's, to Clarendon County in central South Carolina. Its school
system had three
times as many blacks as whites, but white students received more than
60
percent of the funds earmarked for education.

Dr. Clark administered a test, which he had devised years earlier, to
16 of
those black children, who were ages 6 to 9. He showed them a black
doll and a
white doll and asked them what they thought of each. Eleven of them
said
that the black doll looked "bad," and nine of them thought that the
white doll
looked "nice." Seven of the 16 told Dr. Clark that they actually saw
themselves as being closest to the white doll in appearance when asked,
"Now show me
the doll that's most like you."

"These children saw themselves as inferior, and they accepted the
inferiority as part of reality," Dr. Clark said.

Dr. Clark's testing in Clarendon County was used by Thurgood Marshall
and
the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in its challenge to the
constitutionality of the separate-but-equal doctrine because it showed
actual damage to
children who were segregated and a violation of equal protection under
the
Fourteenth Amendment.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren
announced
its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and Marshall, who had
argued
the case before the court, called Dr. Clark with the news. Dr. Clark
recalled
that Marshall told him that "Justice Warren had specifically mentioned
the
psychological testimony as key."

Dr. Clark added: "I confidently expected the segregation problem would
be
solved by 1960. That shows how naļve I was."

An Unwavering Insistence

To the end, Dr. Clark remained committed to integration, although he
grew
more pessimistic. For this, in part, he blamed neoconservative whites
who, he
thought, had betrayed the civil rights struggle; those blacks who
thought they
could succeed in isolation from whites; politicians of both races who
made
empty promises; and defeatists who came to think that integration and
real
racial harmony were "too difficult to achieve."

Renowned for the power of his oratory and writing over a career that
spanned
more than 50 years, Dr. Clark was uncompromising in his insistence
that
blacks be given equal rights and that even in the face of violence at
the hands
of racists, they must "adopt a courageous, calm and confident
position."

Besides Ms. Harris, of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Osprey, Fla., he is
survived by his son, Hilton B. Clark of Manhattan, three grandchildren
and five
great-grandchildren. Dr. Clark's wife died in 1983.

Kenneth Bancroft Clark was born in the Panama Canal Zone on July 14,
1914,
the son of Arthur Bancroft Clark and Miriam Hanson Clark. His parents
did not
get along. Mrs. Clark yearned to return to the United States; Mr.
Clark, a
passenger agent with the United Fruit Company in Latin America, felt he
wanted
to stay where he was in order to earn a living. When Kenneth was only
5, his
mother decided to leave her husband. She took Kenneth and his younger
sister,
Beulah, to New York City, where Mrs. Clark took a job as a seamstress
in a
sweatshop, struggling to pay the rent on a tenement apartment in
Harlem. Later,
she helped organize a union where she worked and became a shop steward
for
the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Mrs. Clark and Kenneth
had a
strong bond and years later, he would recall that she "somehow
communicated to
me the excitement of people doing things together to help themselves."

In 1920, Kenneth entered Public School 5 in Harlem and soon thereafter
switched to P.S. 139, which later also educated James Baldwin. At
first, the
student body reflected the fact that Harlem contained substantial
populations of
Irish and Italians. By the time Kenneth Clark reached the ninth grade,
however, Harlem was changing and most of the students around him were
black. At
school, he was told to learn a trade and prepare for vocational
training. Miriam
Clark would have none of that. She walked into school one day, told
the
counselor what she thought of vocational schools and made it clear
that as far as
she was concerned, her son was better than that. Kenneth thus went to
George
Washington High School in Upper Manhattan.

He was admitted to Howard University, where he studied political
science
with Dr. Ralph Bunche and where he came to admire Bertrand Russell and
Albert
Einstein. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1935 and returned to
Howard the
next year for his master's degree in psychology. He also taught at
Howard for a
time, but soon departed for New York, where he pursued doctoral
studies at
Columbia University, receiving his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in
1940.

From 1939 to 1941 he took part in the classic study of the American
Negro
that was organized by Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish economist. The study,
which
documented the inequalities that obtained among American whites and
blacks,
would be required reading in colleges and universities for years.

In 1942, Dr. Clark served for a time in the Office of War Information,
for
which he traveled about the United States in order to assess morale
among
blacks. He returned to New York late in the year and joined the
faculty of City
College.

Mamie Phipps Clark, whom he had married in 1938, also earned a
doctorate in
psychology from Columbia and in 1946 joined him in founding the
Northside
Center for Child Development, which treated children with personality
disorders.
At first, its services were offered only to blacks but in 1949, it
became
available to whites, too. That year, Dr. Clark was promoted to
assistant
professor of psychology at City College.

His interest in black children's perceptions of themselves went back
to 1939
and 1940, when he and his wife conducted tests with dolls in New York
and
Washington. In those days, Washington had a segregated school system,
and the
tests showed that black children in Washington had lower self-esteem
than
their peers in New York City.

On another occasion, Dr. Clark was in rural Arkansas and when he asked
one
black child which doll was most like him, the little boy smiled and
pointed to
the brown doll and replied: "That's a nigger. I'm a nigger." Dr. Clark
said
he found that "as disturbing, or more disturbing, than the children in
Massachusetts who would refuse to answer the question or who would cry
and run out
of the room."

Taken as a whole, Dr. Clark said, the results repeatedly confirmed
that
American society in the segregated South was telling blacks that they
were
"inferior to other groups of human beings in the society."

Throughout the 1950's and 1960's, Dr. Clark was most active in New
York
City. In 1954 he had assailed the city school system with permitting
de facto
segregation, pointing out that because of this, especially in places
like
Harlem, "children not only feel inferior but are inferior in academic
achievement."
After an investigation supported his charges, he was named to lead a
Board
of Education commission to see to the integration of city schools and
to push
for smaller classes, an enriched curriculum and better facilities in
the
city's slum schools.

During this period he also served as a visiting professor both at
Columbia
and at the University of California, Berkeley. He became a full
tenured
professor in the city university system in 1960 and in 1961 won the
Spingarn Medal
of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for
his
contributions to promoting better race relations.

A Fight for Harlem

In 1962, Dr. Clark organized Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited, or
Haryou, in an effort to recruit educational experts to reorganize
Harlem schools,
provide for preschool programs and after-school remedial education and
reduce
unemployment among blacks who had dropped out of school. Two years
later, a
committee headed by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy endorsed
Haryou's work,
and as a result, President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration
earmarked $110
million to finance the program.

But the program was placed under the administration of a joint
organization
formed by the merger of Haryou and Associated Community Teams, a pet
project
of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the Harlem Congressman and minister. Mr.
Powell
and Dr. Clark, who served as acting chairman of Haryou-Act, clashed
over the
selection of an executive director. Mr. Powell charged that Dr. Clark
stood to
profit personally from control of the program. Dr. Clark denied this
and said
that Mr. Powell saw the Haryou-Act program mostly in terms of the
political
power it gave him.

The struggle between the two was long and heated, and journalists
reported
that the two grew to despise each other, something that Dr. Clark
denied.

"I liked him," Dr. Clark said of Mr. Powell. "Adam was one of the most
honest, corrupt human beings I have ever met. One of the reasons I
liked Adam is
that he had so few illusions.'

Dr. Clark quoted Mr. Powell as telling him, in the middle of the
controversy, "Ah, Kenneth, stop being a child. If you come along with
me, we can split a
million bucks." Dr. Clark explained that what Mr. Powell didn't
understand
was: "I didn't want any million dollars. What the hell was I going to
do with
a million dollars?"

In 1950, Dr. Clark became convinced he should move his family from New
York
City to Westchester County. He wanted to leave Harlem because he and
his wife
could not bear to send their children to the public schools that he
was
trying so hard to improve but were failing anyhow. "My children have
only one
life," he said.

At the same time, he decided that perhaps the way to hasten the
improvement
of city schools was to decentralize them. But after the schools were
decentralized, they continued their decline. Dr. Clark came to think of
the
decentralization experiment as a "disaster," failing to achieve any of
the educational
objectives he had sought.

By the 1970's, after the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King
Jr. and John and Robert Kennedy, and the difficulty in achieving
integration
in the North, many blacks were growing more wary of whites, more
doubtful
about overcoming prejudice and achieving racial equality. Dr. Clark
was
discouraged too, but he remained a firm advocate of the integration of
American
society. His colleagues described him as "an incorrigible
integrationist,"
convinced of the rightness of the civil rights struggle and certain
that the nation
could not and should not go back.

In 1973, with a backlash to integration mounting, Dr. Clark said in an
interview in The New York Times Magazine that "one of the things that
disturbs me
most is the sophisticated form of intellectual white backlash," citing
the
writings of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, among others. "In their ivory
towers, they
have lost all empathy with low-income people and black people. They
are
seeking to repudiate their own past liberal positions, fighting
against their own
heritage at the expense of the poor."

Dr. Clark said he neither admired nor respected such intellectuals and
said
he was "breaking all ties with them." A registered Democrat, Dr. Clark
went
out of his way in 1976 to support the incumbent United States senator,
James
L. Buckley, a conservative Republican, in his unsuccessful race
against Mr.
Moynihan, the Democratic candidate.

Dr. Clark's candor was evenhanded. Late in life, he said he had not
been
heartened by the ascendancy of blacks in public life because it had not
translated into a fundamental change in the condition of ordinary black
people. He
said he thought white Americans admired accomplished blacks like Colin
Powell
as long as there were not "too many of them" and they did not threaten
white
hegemony in American society.

He remained active and vocal. In the 1980's, he expressed anger over
assertions that blacks were the cause of their own problems. In 1986,
he called on
the New York State Board of Regents to supersede the authority of
local school
boards if they chronically reported low test scores. He also spoke out
on
deteriorating relations between blacks and Jews, asserting that the
dialogue
had been too much about anti-Semitism among blacks and not enough
about
anti-black sentiment among the Jews.

He irritated separatists when he quit the board of Antioch College
after it
agreed to black demands for the establishment of a dormitory and study
program that excluded whites. And some blacks in Washington became
upset with Dr.
Clark, whom they had hired to evaluate their black-run school system,
when he
concluded that it wasn't very good and that what students needed was
better
teachers and tougher basic courses. He also suggested that whatever
argot
black children spoke in the streets, they ought to be required to use
standard
American English in school.

Dr. Clark was something of a legend in the City University system. And
he
was quick to say what all really great teachers say: that in the
process of
teaching, a good professor learned more than his students.

He retired from City University in 1975 and, looking back on more than
a
third of a century of work there, said he thought that the students of
the
1940's and '50's had been better at asking probing questions. Dr.
Clark was not so
impressed with the students of the 1960's and said he thought their
revolution "was pure fluff." He also retired from the Metropolitan
Applied Research
Center, which he had founded eight years earlier, and embarked on a
consulting
business on race relations and affirmative action.

Dr. Clark's books included "Dark Ghetto" (1965); "A Relevant War
Against
Poverty" (1969); "A Possible Reality," (1972); and "Pathos of Power"
(1974).

Despite the many honors he won and the respect he commanded, Dr. Clark
said
he thought his life had been a serious of "magnificent failures." In
1992, at
the age of 78, he confessed: "I am pessimistic and I don't like that.
I
don't like the fact that I am more pessimistic now than I was two
decades ago."

Yet as a conscience of New York politics and of the civil rights
movement,
he remained an unreconstructed, if anguished, integrationist. A decade
ago,
during one of his last lengthy interviews, he chain-smoked Marlboros
in his
home, flanked by vivid African carvings and walls of books wrapped in
sun-faded
dust jackets, as he professed optimism but repeatedly expressed
disappointment over dashed expectations about experiments in school
decentralization, open
admissions at City University and affirmative action.

"There's no question that there have been changes," he said then.
"They are
not as deep as they appear to be."

Among the cosmetic changes was an rhetorical evolution from Negro to
black
to African-American. What, he was asked, was the best thing for blacks
to call
themselves?

"White," he replied.

He said a lack of meaningful progress could be blamed on blacks who
saw
themselves only as victims and on whites too narrow-minded to
recognize their own
self-interest in black success. As whites become a minority in a
polyglot
country, he was asked, won't they see that it is in their interest
that blacks
succeed?

"They're not that bright," he replied. "I don't think you can expect
whites
to understand the effects of prejudice and discrimination against
blacks
affecting them. If whites really understood, they would do something
about it."
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Mahoganyanais
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Mahoganyanais

Post Number: 300
Registered: 01-2005

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Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 10:27 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/05/04/kenn eth_clarks_unfulfilled_dream/

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