'Doll Man' Secured the Role of Social Scientists

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The lawyers who waged war against Jim Crow schools in the early 1950s turned for ammunition to the social scientists of their day--none more prominently than Kenneth B. Clark.

Debate still swirls around the role of the New York City-based social psychologist in the cases that culminated in the Brown v. Board of Education decisions in 1954 and 1955. Known as the "doll man" for his research using brown and white dolls, Clark became a lightning rod for criticism from supporters as well as opponents of the historic rulings.

Still, Clark's role in marshaling evidence and mobilizing a cadre of like-minded social scientists set the stage for desegregation litigation for decades to come. The collaboration in the Brown cases was a forerunner of similar partnerships that yielded starring roles for social scientists as expert witnesses, desegregation planners, and court-appointed monitors in cases across the country.

Vol. 18, Issue 28, Page 34

Published in Print: March 24, 1999, as 'Doll Man' Secured the Role of Social Scientists
Web Resources
  • A list of the Library of Congress' extensive holdings on the collected papers of Kenneth B. Clark. Includes biographical information.
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