Protecting Black Children From Racism Was Her Life's Work

black children playing with white dolls
Leslie Taylor-Grover
March 6, 2021

Black children were suffering, and Mamie Phipps Clark was concerned. Though she  was not a parent when she first started her work, she was motivated by something else to care for Black youth.

Her own childhood had shown her the deadly effects of racism. As a girl, she’d witnessed a man dragged and lynched, and this memory stuck with her. She vowed to protect other children from the violent effects of racial hatred. But how?

First, she could help them address the psychological effects of racism. She gained fame by serving as an expert witness in the Brown v. Kansas Board of Education and co-creator of the “Doll Test” that helped strike down segregation. Then came one of her hardest challenges.

No one would hire a Black woman research scientist, not even a famous one! So instead, she opened a social service center for Black children, the first of its kind. The center became the mecca of activism and advocacy for Black children, and it’s still in operation today.

Uplifting Black children is crucial to securing the future of our people. Whether we are parents or not, we must understand that protecting and healing Black children means healing future Black adults – and sets the stage for more powerful future leaders of our communities!

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