“Father of Black Psychology” Dies
UC Irvine Professor Emeritus Joseph L. White, dubbed the “father of black psychology” for his pioneering efforts in changing the way the field approaches theories applied to blacks, has died.
White spent most of his career at the University of California at Irvine, but held various titles at different locations around the United States, such as researcher, professor, dean, clinician and consultant. While at the California State University at Long Beach, he was instrumental in establishing the Educational Opportunity Program, which has provided “educational access and opportunity for more than 250,000 low-income and educationally disadvantaged students throughout California, the majority of whom are first-generation college students.”
“Dr. White was a renowned scholar and will be remembered for his pioneering work in clinical psychology. But like all great professors his most enduring contribution is that he touched so many lives as a mentor and a teacher,” family friend and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.
White called for blacks to found a psychological field of their own and in 1968 became one of the founders of the Association of Black Psychologists in 1968.
Earning a Ph.D. from Michigan State in 1962, White became one of only a handful of blacks in the nation to hold a doctorate in clinical psychology.
“When I left the program,” he recalled, “I was what you call a black Anglo-Saxon. I was the nicest Negro you ever wanted to see” but prejudice changed him into “a militant Negro.”
Funeral services for White, who suffered a heart attack, while traveling to visit his daughter, are scheduled for December 12.