Education Obituary

M. Brewster Smith, Witness in Landmark Case

By McClatchy-Tribune — August 21, 2012 1 min read

A professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, whose research and testimony contributed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision died Aug. 4 after a brief illness. M. Brewster Smith was 93. Mr. Smith joined the university as vice chancellor for social sciences in 1970, serving in that capacity until 1975. He continued working as a professor of psychology until retiring in 1988.

In 1952, then at Vassar College, Mr. Smith testified as an expert witness against segregation in a case before a Richmond, Va., federal appeals court, one of four lower-court cases that led to the Supreme Court’s decision to ban school segregation in Brown. Mr. Smith, who testified that segregation harmed a child’s self-esteem and thus affected his or her ability to learn, considered his testimony to be among his greatest contributions to society.

His career spanning more than six decades focused on the interplay of psychological and political processes, according to UC-Santa Cruz.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as M. Brewster Smith, Witness in Landmark Case