A Tale of Challenge and Change: A History and Chronology of Ethnic Minorities in Psychology in the United States

Bertha Garrett Holliday & Angela L Holmes. Handbook of Racial & Ethnic Minority Psychology. Editor: Guillermo Bernai. Sage Publications. 2003.

The history of ethnic minority psychology in the United States is characterized by four major themes:

  • The promulgation of theories and data that were used by psychologists and others to support notions of scientific racism—especially as these relate to the legitimacy of White advantage/superiority and the inferiority, exploitation, discrimination, and dispossession of U.S. peoples of color;
  • The critique and challenge of psychological theories and interventions that support stereotypic notions of the negative and deficit individual psychological characteristics and behaviors of ethnic minority peoples, as well as nonprogressive social policy in ethnic minority communities;
  • The pursuit of ethnic minority inclusion and participation in psychology’s scientific and professional associations and literature; and
  • The development and promulgation of theories and interventions derived from the cultures, traditional values and worldviews, and historical experiences of ethnic minority peoples.

Background and Overview

The content, timing, and significance of many events in the history of ethnic minority psychology are in response to a major nemesis: psychology’s involvement in scientific racism and resulting implications for the development of ethnic minority communities and peoples. Scientific racism is derived from 19th-century theories of evolution, genetics, and heredity. These theories support the cardinal assumption that differences among the world’s peoples reflect differences in evolutionary development and that these differences can be viewed hierarchically and valued differentially. The scientific underpinnings of this assumption were hallmarked by the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origins of the Species by Means of Natural Selection.

In addition, during the 19th century, the pervasiveness of the domination, colonization, and enslavement of non-European peoples by Europeans served to create a distinctive racial spin to this assumption. Indeed, by the beginning of the 20th century, scientific racism was cloaked in White racism and White superiority. White Europeans dominated the world. And the justification for this domination was often found in the numerous scientific studies documenting the differences in the cultures, values, social behaviors, and physiology of non-Europeans, which were judged as inferior to those of White Europeans, who were viewed as the inevitable standard for comparison.

The discipline of psychology, which came into existence during the latter half of the 19th century, contributed to the support of scientific racism. Examples of such contributions are evident in the works of Francis Galton and G. Stanley Hall—both of whom were founders of psychology in the United States. Francis Galton, who developed psychometrics and parametric statistical techniques and conducted the first experimental studies of psychological process, devised a 15-point scale of “grades of [psychological] ability.” According to Galton, on this scale, the Negro race was, on average, two grades below the Anglo-Saxon, and the “Australian type” was a further grade lower (Galton, 1869/1962, as cited by Richards, 1997, p. 18). Galton, a cousin of Darwin, also championed eugenics.

Stanley Hall, the holder of the first Ph.D. granted in the United States (Harvard University, 1878) and a founder of the American Psychological Association (Street, 1994, chap. 1), advocated a more humane form of scientific racism. Hall argued that compared to White Europeans, “lower races” were at a different, more adolescent stage of their life cycle. To address this situation, Hall supported the development of “civilizing programs” tailored to specific needs of a given group (Hall, 1904, as cited in Richards, 1997, pp. 22-24). Thus, Hall accepted racial hierarchies but rejected the permanence both of the hierarchical rankings and their assumption of White superiority and dominance.

Thus, by the beginning of the 20th century, the major components were in place for the scientific background of the stage on which the history of ethnic minority psychology would be played. These major components related to the scientific racism perspective. And the relationship of the emerging discipline of psychology to that perspective would serve to dictate several conditions of the forthcoming drama, including the following:

  • Due to assumptions of innate inferiority and associated conditions of social dominance and restricted opportunities, ethnic minorities or persons of color would not be involved in establishing the new discipline of psychology, defining its major issues of concerns and procedures, or establishing its major organizational structures and professional standards of conduct, academic departments, and scholarly journals.
  • Psychological theories, perspectives, and extant knowledge emanating from non-European peoples and their communities would not be valued by or readily incorporated into the new discipline.
  • In the main, assumptions and derivatives of scientific racism would be integral to the sustenance and legitimization of the emerging discipline of psychology; in turn, the theories and procedures of that discipline would be used to support the assumptions of scientific racism and its derivatives.
  • As symbolized by the differences in the perspectives of Galton and Hall, from its inception, psychology in the United States would be characterized by its simultaneous tendencies to serve as tools for both oppression and development of the nation’s communities of color.

It was the existence of this latter possibility that has attracted and continues to attract persons of color to the discipline, despite its historical embeddedness in scientific racism.

But the stage for the history of people of color in psychology involved far more than scientific factors; it also involved social contextual factors grounded in indigenous and traditional customs, values, and beliefs; historical experience; and political-economic realities. Descriptions of such factors are incorporated into the following history of ethnic minority psychology in the United States.

Narrative on the History of Ethnic Minorities in U.S. Psychology

The Mid-19th Century

During the last half of the 19th century, and consistent with the imperialistic adventures of major European nations, the United States engaged in a multifaceted program of colonialism and national expansion that was marked not only by vast land acquisitions but also by the conquest, oppression, and exploitation of peoples of color. The scope and intensity of such activity are readily apparent when one considers that at the beginning of the 19th century, more than 80% of what are now the contiguous 48 states was Indian land (Nies, 1996, chap. 7). But that quickly changed.

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 extended the boundaries of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and sparked public policies of removal of American Indians from their lands. Florida (i.e., what is now Florida, Alabama, and parts of Georgia) was purchased from Spain in 1819. In 1844, U.S. claims to the Oregon Territory were recognized by Britain. In 1845, the Republic of Texas was admitted to the United States, and in 1848, Mexico ceded to the United States the southwestern and western lands that later became the territories of New Mexico, Arizona, California, and part of the state of Texas. Remaining Mexican land in these territories was sold to the United States in 1853, thus completing acquisition of the continental portion of the United States.

The land acquisitions of the mid-19th century also were associated with both the racial/ethnic diversification of the U.S. population and the emergence and institutionalization of strategies for the management of indigenous, enslaved, and immigrant populations (cf. Gonzalez, 2000, chap. 5; Nies, 1996, chap. 7; Sanchez, 1966). For example, in 1823, the Office of Indian Affairs was established within the U.S. War Department. In the 1830s, the forcible removal of the Five Civilized Tribes (i.e., the Chickasaw, the Cherokee, the Creek, the Choctaw, and the Seminóle) from southern states to Oklahoma marked the beginning of the Indian reservation system and ensured the continuation and expansion of the Southern plantation economy, which was grounded on the labor of enslaved Africans (Nies, 1996, chap. 7). Furthermore, the acquisition of southwestern and western lands included more than 100,000 persons of Spanish and/or Mexican descent who became the object of land theft, violence, and disenfranchisement (Gonzalez, 2000, chap. 5; Samura, 1996; Sanchez, 1966).

Timeline of Challenge and Change: The Inclusion of People of Color in in the United States

1869 Major General Canby, military commander of Union forces occupying Virginia, authorizes the establishment of the first U.S. institution for the exclusive care of African American mental patients. Howard’s Grove Asylum, later named Central State Hospital, was opened in April 1885 near Petersburg (Street, 1994, p. 42).
1892 The American Psychological Association is founded by 26 [White] men (Street, 1994).
1899 Howard University offers its first psychology course, “Psychology: The Brief Course” (Hopkins, Ross, & Hicks, 1994).
1917 U.S. War Department adopts the Army Alpha and Army Beta Tests developed by psychologist Robert Yerkes (Street, 1994).
1920 Francis C. Sumner is the first African American awarded the Ph.D. in psychology from a U.S. institution (Clark University); dissertation title: “Psychoanalysis of Freud and Adler” (Guthrie, 1994; Street, 1994).
J. Henry Alston is first African American to publish a research article (titled “Psychophysics of the Spatial Condition of the Fusion of Warmth and Cold in Heat”) in an exclusively psychological journal, the American Journal of Psychology (T. C. Cadwallader, as cited by Benimoff, 1995).

Immediately after the United States acquired California lands, the Gold Rush of the 1850s sparked not only an onslaught of speculators but also the start of Asian immigration to the United States, which intensified during the building of the Pacific Railroad in the 1860s (Daniels & Kitano, 1970, chap. 3; Gossett, 1963/1965, chap. 12). Furthermore, economic factors—related to the use of enslaved Africans and the South’s plantation economy, northern industrialization, and federal policies affecting the nation’s western expansion—were at the root of the nation’s Civil War of 1861-1865. After the Civil War, the employment of former soldiers in the army of the West ensured that the Indian wars took on the characteristics of major military campaigns (Nies, 1996, chap. 7). And then, after the Civil War, there was also the cost of Reconstruction.

During this era, psychology as a scientific discipline had not as yet emerged in the United States.

The Last Quarter of the 19th Century

This era began in the midst of a national economic depression, which shifted national concern from issues such as the rebuilding of the South (i.e., Reconstruction) to national economic policy. Imperialistic ambitions continued as reflected in the Paris Treaty of 1898, which signaled the end of the Spanish-American war and ceded Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States.

As previously noted, psychology as a discipline began to emerge during this era. In 1878, G. Stanley Hall was awarded the first Ph.D. in psychology granted by a U.S. institution (Harvard University). Later, Hall established the first U.S. psychology research laboratory in 1883 at Johns Hopkins University; in 1887, he edited and published the first issue of the American Journal of Psychology (Street, 1994, pp. 49, 56, 64). The first meeting of the International Congress of Psychology was conducted in 1889. And in 1892, the American Psychological Association was founded by 26 White men of European descent (Street, 1994, pp. 67, 77). Much of the psychological research of the times focused on studies of basic psychological/sensory processes.

During this era, the history of people of color in psychology was limited to their occasional mention as subjects of various speculative theories, and descriptive and experimental studies often focused on physiological or sensory racial differences (cf. Gossett, 1963/1965, pp. 364-365; Guthne, 1976; Richards, 1997, chaps. 2, 4). However, in general, these studies were fundamentally of academic and scientific interest, with relatively few social policy implications. Racism was just beginning to place its indelible stamp on psychology.

The First Quarter of the 20th Century

This was an era of new beginnings punctuated by massive movements of people both to and within the United States. In the midst of these massive movements of human populations, World War I occurred. The war served to somewhat mute the social dislocation, economic competition, and political discomfort occasioned by the “newcomer” immigrants and migrants. But after the war, social and political debate increasingly focused on means for understanding and controlling the impact of the “newcomers.”

The largest voluntary immigration of Europeans to the United States occurred during the decade of 1900-1910. This immigration continued until the outbreak of World War I, which diverted the use of transatlantic ships (the primary means of immigrant transcontinental transport) to war purposes.

In addition, the Southwest’s Mexican American population radically increased by more than 1 million persons as a result of displacement resulting from the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and the massive recruitment of Mexican labor as agricultural, mining, railroad, and industrial workers (Gonzalez, 2000, chap. 3). Japanese immigration also began to boom during the early part of the 20th century. In 1900, there were only 10,000 Japanese among California’s population of nearly 1.5 million; by 1920, California’s Japanese population had increased to 72,000 (Daniels & Kitano, 1970, chap. 3; Gossett, 1963/1965, chap. 12). Filipino immigration also became prominent between 1920 and 1930, during which that group’s U.S. population increased from 5,000 to 45,000 (Daniels & Kitano, 1970, p. 66; Okamura & Agbayani, 1991).

Prior to the U.S. entry into World War I in 1917, the Great Migration began of an estimated 500,000 to 1 million African Americans from southern rural areas to northern urban areas and, to a much lesser extent, to the West (Great Migration, 1999, pp. 869-872). In contrast, American Indians were distinguished by the absence of their involvement in any “new beginnings” during the early 20th century. Federal policies of isolation, exploitation, and assimilation continued to ensure that Indians were outside the mainstream of historical and social developments. Indeed, for Indians, the early years of the 20th century were marked by continued disruption of culture, loss and theft of natural resources (especially oil and water), and social neglect as a result of the enactment of more allotment laws (which broke up traditional systems of collective land tenure of reservation lands, fostered the destruction of tribal leadership, and defined Indian based on the race-based notion of “blood quantum”) and other governmental actions (cf. Nies, 1996, chap. 8).

After World War I, in the nation’s communities of color—especially in the South—the continuing entrenchment of oppression and discrimination and the increased incidence of racial intimidation and terrorism (as epitomized by the resurgence of lynching and the Ku Klux Klan) served to institutionalize the color coding of the nation’s social relations and political-economic activities.

In contrast, most European American communities prospered after World War I. Nevertheless, new European immigrants and migrants continued to be a source of discomfort for the nation. Consequently, immigration policy became a topic of public debate (cf. Gossett, 1963/1965, chaps. 12-15). So, in 1924, a more stringent Immigration Act was enacted that limited the number of immigrants to 2% of immigrants from a given country living in the United States as of 1890 and extended the ban against Asian immigration. This served to favor the older immigrant groups from northern and western Europe over the newer immigrant groups from southern and eastern Europe (Daniels & Kitano, 1970, pp. 54-56; Gossett, 1963/1965, pp. 405-406).

For the discipline of psychology, the first quarter of the 20th century was a period of consolidation and entrenchment. It also was an era when psychology actively championed tenets of scientific racism. All of these developments were, to a large extent, spurred by refinements in psychometric and experimental techniques and the applications of these techniques to problems of national concern.

For example, Binet and Simon introduced intelligence testing in 1905. In 1916, U.S. psychologist Lewis Terman and his associates published the Stanford-Binet Test—a revision of the Binet-Simon Test. This event, coupled with Binet’s death, served to shift the center of IQ testing from France to the United States.

Later, the American Psychological Association (APA), under the leadership of Robert M. Yerkes, spearheaded psychologists’ involvement in World War I, which resulted in the creation of Army Alpha and Army Beta Tests of mental and performance abilities. These tests, which were the first intelligence tests developed for large-group administration, were adopted by the army in 1917 and administered to more than 1.7 million men, primarily for the purpose of identifying those who might be suitable for officer training (Gossett, 1963/1965, pp. 365-367; Richards, 1997, chap. 4; Street, 1994, pp. 74, 138). The Psychological Corporation, a major publisher of assessment instruments, was founded in 1921 (Street, 1994, p. 75). Psychologists also contributed to the medical treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers (Street, 1994, p. 74).

As a result of such activities, psychology was enabled to represent itself as an empirically based science whose findings were not biased by value-laden theoretical assumptions but rather were the results of unbiased empirical techniques. Social and scientific entrenchment and legitimacy of the new discipline were ensured when it was demonstrated that these techniques could be used in service of national goals and to address perceived “threats” to national interests, including those occasioned by the era’s European immigration and increased racial competition.

In the case of immigration, and to a large degree, as a result of the massive administration of the Army Alpha and Beta Tests, psychological studies of intelligence and other psychological characteristics were explicitly used in the service of the eugenics aspects of scientific racism. Thus, intelligence and other psychological tests were used to identify “less desirable” immigrant groups, and psychologists used such findings to justify immigration restrictions and associated differential immigration preference for persons based on their nation of origin.

Although data from the Army Alpha Test indicated that racial differences in mental test scores varied across geographical areas—thus suggesting significant environmental influences on intellectual functioning—the assumed innateness of intelligence was the more dominant and prevailing idea of the day. Consequently, the army tests spawned a large number of studies on racial differences in psychological (both intellectual and personality) characteristics. The stated implications of these studies most often focused on issues related to the management, socialization, and education of the nation’s people of color. Indeed, the bulk of this era’s psychological research on persons of color was used to justify racially differential treatment—especially in educational opportunity for children of color, which emerged as an issue of public debate during Reconstruction. Thus, psychologists used their psychometric and empirical techniques to justify both different and separate education for children of color.

Richards (1997) has characterized the body of psychological studies addressing both immigrant and racial intellectual and learning attributes that emerged during this era as “race psychology” (cf. Klineberg, 1945). In general, race psychology sought to refine and document scientific racism assumptions—especially those related to the innate, biologically based, inheritable aspects of race differences and related eugenetic concerns, as well as its “mulatto hypothesis,” whereby biracial individuals are viewed as having psychological attributes that are intermediate to those of their parents’ racial group (Richards, 1997, chap. 4).

It was also during this era that ethnic minorities first began participating in the discipline of psychology as scholars. In 1920, African American Francis C. Sumner became the first person of color awarded a Ph.D. in psychology from a U.S. institution (Guthrie, 1998; Street, 1994). In the same year, J. Henry Alston, an African American, became the first person of color to publish a research article in an exclusively psychological journal (T. C. Cadwalleder, as cited by Benimoff, 1995).

Thus, the first quarter of the 20th century is notable in the history of ethnic minority psychology as the era when tenets of scientific racism were incorporated into mainstream psychology and when ethnic minorities first lay claim to inclusion and participation in the young discipline of psychology. Both developments, to a great extent, were centered on (differing) concerns about the capabilities and education of children of color, and both occurred against a common historical background marked by economic progress, war, increased racial competition, and increased concern among European Americans about control of both ethnic minority and newly arrived immigrant populations. Thus, one can presume there was a tension—a divergence of interests—between the first psychologists of color and their White fellow psychologists.

The Second Quarter of the 20th Century

This was an era of high drama involving worldwide economic depression and world war. During this era, the world heaved and began reorganizing itself politically, economically, and socially.

The Great Depression and the New Deal

The stock market crashed in 1929, and during the next 10 years, the United States and Europe experienced a severe economic depression. In the United States, no attempt was made to stimulate the economy until Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and his “New Dealers” were swept into the presidency in 1932. The devastation of the Great Depression forced the U.S. citizenry to rethink major assumptions of U.S. American society—including those undergirding scientific racism. Political, economic, and social class analyses became far more salient. And increasingly, citizens looked to the federal government to actively provide for their well-being. In response to the economic situation and changing ideologies and expectations, the FDR administration developed the “New Deal”—a domestic reform program, including both temporary initiatives and permanent reforms. The related effects on both psychology and communities of color were unprecedented (cf. Sellman, 1999a).

Timeline of Challenge and Change: The Inclusion of People of Color in in the United States

1928 Psychology department is established at Howard University, chaired by Francis C. Sumner (Hopkins et al, 1994).
1930s Four historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) offer psychology as an undergraduate major (Evans, 1999a, 1999b, Guthrie, 1998).
1933 Inez B. Prosser is first African American woman awarded a doctorate (Ed.D.) in psychology from a U.S. institution (University of Cincinnati); dissertation title: “Non-Academic Development of Negro Children in Mixed and Segregated schools” (Guthrie, 1976; Task Force, 1995).
1937 Alberta Banner Turner is first African American woman awarded a Ph.D. in psychology from a U.S. institution (Ohio State University) (Guthrie, 1976; T. C. Cadwallader, as cited by Benimoff, 1995).
1938 The first ethnic minority psychological association is established as Division 6, the Department of Psychology, at the meeting of the all-Black American Teachers Association (ATA) for ATA members interested in “the teaching and application of the science of psychology and related fields, particularly in Negro institutions,” with Herman Canady, psychologist at West Virginia State College elected as its chairman (Guthrie, 1998).
1943 Robert Chin is first Chinese American awarded a Ph.D. in psychology from a U.S. institution (Columbia University) (S. Sue, 1994).
1949 The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is established (Street, 1994).

Indeed, the dramatic changes occasioned by the Great Depression and the New Deal brought to head a schism, or internal contradiction, within psychology that continues to affect the discipline to this day. Psychology up until the Great Depression had taken great pains to position itself as a(n) (experimental) scientific discipline of a traditional positivist character. In other words, psychology, intellectually and publicly, claimed to be rooted in that type of objectivity wherein fact was not influenced by value. However, the realities of the Great Depression—the sheer scope of its human misery, the vast political will and social and economic interventions that would be required to respond affirmatively to its reality, and its negative impact on the careers and livelihood of psychologists—challenged positivist assumptions. Psychologists increasingly were confronted with the realities of the need for not only a scientific methodology but also a value or ideological framework that enabled an understanding of the effects of social-economic factors on behavior (cf. Harris, 1986).

Consequently, before and during the Great Depression, on one hand, psychology continued in a very steadfast, almost blinders-on manner to institutionalize the accouterments of an established scientific discipline, despite the fact that about 40% of APA members were unemployed (Miller, 1986, p. 127). Thus, APA purchased and began publishing five psychological journals in 1925; launched a journal of abstracts, Psychological Abstracts, in 1927; and issued its first publication manual (i.e., instructions to authors of psychological manuscripts) in 1928. Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology, was established in 1929, and the first of a series of thirty 15-minute weekly radio lectures titled “Psychology Today” was broadcast over 50 NBC-affiliated stations in 1931. During this era, behaviorism began to flower, and testing and psychometrics continued to flourish as suggested by the premier administrations of the College Entrance Examination Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in 1926 and the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills standardized achievement tests in 1935, the conduct of the first Educational Testing Service Invitation Conference in 1936, and the publication of David Weschler’s The Measurement of Adult Intelligence in 1939 (Street, 1994, chap. 3).

In addition, clinical psychology began its professionalization through the 1935 publication of the “Report of the Clinical Section of the APA,” which defined clinical psychology, described standards for training, and provided a guide to all of the psychological clinics in the United States (Street, 1994, chap. 3).

The race psychologists continued their studies. But increasingly, their findings tended to disconfirm major tenets of scientific racism. In attempting to demonstrate the innateness of racial differences, these researchers increasingly sought to control the effects of a variety of nongenetic factors and met with highly mixed success. Furthermore, such attempts often resulted in highlighting the potential effects that environmental variables could in fact have on human behavior in general and on the observed racial differences in particular. Also, the biological integrity of racial categories (not to mention that of the “mulatto”) was increasingly challenged by a variety of interests, including other scientific disciplines (cf. Guthrie, 1998, p. 30; Richards, 1997, chaps. 4, 5).

On the other hand, during this same era, there emerged a distinct clamor within psychology for recognition that social issues and social problems are not separate from science but instead should be a subject of psychological theory and methodology. Paradoxically, in consideration of psychologists’ active involvement in the immigration policies some 10 years earlier, this call for psychology’s involvement in social issues was (and continues to be) viewed as a stance advocated by the more “radical” (and “softer”) element of psychologists.

During the Depression era, attempts to engage psychology in social issues were best represented by the establishment of the Psychologists League (PL) in 1934 in New York City and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI—Division 9 of the APA) in 1936. The founding of both of these organizations was stimulated by the socialist, Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, and social democrat interests of most of their founding members. The Psychologists League was an activist organization committed both to ideological critique of issues pertinent to psychological theory and to direct political action. More specifically, PL consistently published articles in its journal that subjected psychological theory to sociopolitical critique, conducted forums on social psychological topics such as racial differences and issues of war and peace, and continuously and directly advocated for the expansion of the roles of psychologists and the employment of psychologists in New Deal programs. Most PL members were clinicians, and many were master’s-level psychologists (Finison, 1986; Miller, 1986).

In contrast, SPSSI, whose early members were mostly academic, nonclinical, Ph.D.-level psychologists, was primarily concerned with the application of psychological theory and methods to the scholarly study of such social issues as war, industrial conflict, and racial prejudice and the testing of hypotheses regarding social change (Finison, 1986; Morawski, 1986).

Both PL and SPSSI actively critiqued intelligence testing and many of its scientific racism assumptions. PL held forums and published articles critiquing such testing, and SPSSI issued public statements in 1939 on the misuse and misinterpretations of these tests (Fimson, 1986; Morawski, 1986). SPSSI, in conjunction with the Yale Institute of Human Relations (which was established in 1929), also initiated what would be landmark investigations into the roots and nature of prejudice (Sitkoff, 1978, pp. 194-201; Street, 1994, p. 175). As a result of such efforts, there emerged within psychology a distinct sector that sought to apply psychology to social problems. Indeed, the study of social attitudes became a major defining topic of the then emerging field of experimental social psychology.

Richards (1997) argued that those efforts of the new applied psychologists that focused on the problems of the nation’s communities of color, along with the newer findings of the race psychologists, served to promote an anti-racist perspective that successfully challenged most of the traditional assumptions of scientific racism related to the innate sources of racial differences as well as the claim these assumptions had on mainstream scientific theory.

Major tenets of this antiracism perspective were as follows: (a) Racial/ethnic differences in psychological characteristics can be attributed to environmental differences; (b) racial comparison studies are methodologically insufficient and flawed, as extant methodology has not and cannot identify and control presumed innate ethnic/racial differences; and (c) race is a category that cannot be justified scientifically, and therefore race should best be construed as either a myth or social construction that is used to justify domination, oppression, and injustice (Richards, 1997, chap. 4).

Consequently, during this era, scholarly and social opinion began shifting to a type of revisionist scientific racism wherein racial minorities were assumed to be “disadvantaged” and “damaged” relative to European Whites as a result of differences in social culture situation and experience rather than by reason of genetic endowment.

For scholars of color in psychology, the Depression was of great significance. This in part was due to the New Deal’s provision of new opportunities for people of color to be involved in federal policymaking. In addition, private foundations (e.g., the Rosenwald Fund, the General Education Board) along with various New Deal programs provided both higher educational opportunities and jobs for a small but growing number of social scientists of color, including psychologists (cf. Holliday, 1989, 1999). This served to help strengthen an emerging institutional base for African Americans in psychology.

Indeed, at the 1938 meeting of the all-Black American Teachers Association (ATA), a division was organized for ATA members interested in “the teaching and application of the science of psychology and related fields, particularly in Negro institutions.” Herman Canady, psychologist at West Virginia State College, was elected president. However, the impending war blunted the future of this first organized group of ethnic minority psychologists (Guthne, 1998, pp. 142-145).

Likewise, the active participation of then psychology graduate student/young professional Kenneth B. Clark, an African American, in SPSSI marked the beginning of meaningful minority participation in the national psychological associations (Finison, 1986, pp. 31-32). Clark would later become president of the American Psychological Association.

In conclusion, the Great Depression era in the history of ethnic minority psychology is marked by a significant change in psychology’s ideology, including a modification of its positivist perspective to include the legitimacy of the confluence of science and social ideology and the explicit recognition that psychological science can be used in the solution of social problems. This ideological shift was accompanied by the advent of experimental social psychology, the expansion of applied psychology, and the demise of assumptions of the innateness of racial differences in mainstream psychology. This is not to say that such assumptions disappeared from psychology. It is to say that from the Great Depression era to the present, assumptions of such innate racial differences (especially in intelligence) have been continuously challenged by various sectors of psychology and have progressively assumed a fringe position relative to mainstream theory and assumptions in psychology.

Ethnic minority psychologists—especially African Americans—witnessed some minor expansion in their numbers and a significant expansion in their roles and stature as a result of the political liberalization of psychology and the opportunities of the New Deal. For the first time, ethnic minority psychologists were visible in intellectual and policy debates related to the study of racial differences and social and educational problems in minority communities. Their involvement in such issues would prove to be a harbinger of future activities. In addition, African American psychologists organized the first ethnic minority psychological association and also began to participate in the major U.S. psychological associations.

All of this occurred against a background of the economic crisis and large-scale human misery that occasioned political radicalization, including increasing public expectations of a greater role of federal government in regulation and support of the nation’s social and economic activities, as well as growing political turmoil abroad that would soon erupt into a world war.

World War II and Its Aftermath

New Deal programs served to blunt the misery of the Great Depression. But it took a world war to restore the nation to economic prosperity. For communities of color, prosperity often came with a high price.

War broke out in Europe in September 1939 when Britain and the allied powers declared war on Germany after it invaded Poland. The United States immediately began mobilizing for war but did not officially enter the war until the Japanese bombed the U.S. military at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The war ended in 1945.

Two months after the bombing, Executive Order 9066 required the forced relocation of all persons of Japanese ancestry (both citizens and aliens who numbered more than 110,000) living in the western halves of the states of California, Oregon, and Washington and the southern half of Arizona to 10 internment or concentration camps (with barrack-type accommodations, barbed wire, and armed guards) located in inaccessible, barren areas in the Southern and Southwestern United States and administered by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) (cf. O’Brien & Fugita, 1991, chaps. 3, 4).

The war did not stop Indians’ continuing loss of land. For example, an estimated 900,000 acres of Indian lands in Alaska and 16 Indian reservations in the West were taken by the U.S. government to use as air bases, gunnery ranges, nuclear test sites, training installations, or internment camps (Nies, 1996, pp. 343-344). Discrimination also continued for African Americans, which resulted in a great deal of discontent and civil rights activism. For example, during the summer of 1943, there were 250 racial conflicts in 47 cities; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Black press launched a “Double V” campaign for victory over fascism abroad and racism at home; and between 1940 and 1946, the NAACP membership grew from 50,000 to 450,000 (Sellman, 1999c). In the case of Hispanics, although the Great Depression occasioned a federal program of deportation by the trainloads, war occasioned the opposite. For example, the Bracero Agreement of 1942 allowed the temporary immigration of up to 100,000 contracted laborers per year from Mexico, who were to be paid prevailing wages (Gonzalez, 2000, chap. 5; Scholes, 1966). All of the major U.S. populations of color participated in the military in World War II—albeit usually in segregated units. Many of these men of color became politically radicalized upon returning after the war to discrimination, racial segregation, and restricted opportunities.

For psychology, the prosperity of the war years served to take the edge off of its newfound social activism. Instead, as was the case in World War I, psychology took advantage of wartime needs to expand its spheres of influence and expertise and to further entrench itself into the institutional and cultural fabric of U.S. society. But this time, the vehicle to such ends primarily involved the contributions of clinical psychology, as well as the alignment of scientific psychological research with compelling national interests.

Cognizant of its success in World War I, U.S. psychology formally mobilized for ensuring its active involvement in World War II. As part of the mobilization, the American Psychological Association was reorganized in 1944 to include its present divisional and Council of Representatives structures and initiated use of a professional staff (Street, 1994, chap. 4.)

The significant role of clinical psychology to U.S. war efforts was heralded by the 1940 release of the U.S. Selective Service System’s Medical Circular #1, which provided guidance for conducting minimal mental and personality inspection of draftees (Street, 1994, p. 205). In 1944, 244 enlisted persons (including 5 women and 1 African American) were appointed officers in the army and given short, intensive courses in clinical psychology. In addition, the 1944 GI Bill of Rights authorized the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide mental health assistance to veterans. In 1946, the Veterans Administration adopted the doctoral degree and internship as the minimum qualification for clinical psychologists and initiated a field training program in clinical psychology for doctoral psychology students having both academic and clinical training (i.e., a forerunner of psychology’s scientist-practitioner model of clinical training). At the same time, the VA appointed its first chief clinical psychologist for the VA Central Office, who in turn appointed psychology chiefs at the 13 VA branch offices (Baker, 1992; Guthne, 1998, p. 141).

In response to the VA’s need to identify psychology programs that provided both academic and clinical training, the APA established standards for training clinical psychologists and prepared its first list of APA-evaluated graduate clinical psychology programs in 1947, thus initiating the accreditation process of professional psychology programs. The first state licensing law regulating professional psychology was enacted by Connecticut in 1945, and the American Board of Professional Psychology was established in 1946 (Street, 1994, pp. 212-219).

The modern fate of scientific psychology was shaped by the 1941 establishment of a federal Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) for the purpose of entering into contracts for basic and applied research related to national defense, as well as medical research pertinent to military concerns (National Academy of Sciences, 1964, pp. 22-23). As a result, the military-industrial complex was born, and the funding of research became a proper concern of federal government.

Near the end of the war, an OSRD committee issued a report on the federal role in postwar scientific research. As a result of the report’s recommendations, a number of federal research funding agencies were established, including the National Institutes of Health in 1944, the National Institute of Mental Health in 1949, and the National Science Foundation in 1950 (National Academy of Sciences, 1964, pp. 22-49; Street, 1994, pp. 210, 215,222). These developments served to enormously strengthen the research missions and institutional budgets of U.S. universities, including those of departments of psychology, and, in so doing, ensured the viability of scientific psychology (cf. Holliday, 1999).

During and after World War II, persons of color continued to slowly increase their participation in psychology. In 1943, Robert Chin became the first Chinese American to be awarded a Ph.D. in psychology in the United States (S. Sue, 1994). Guthne (1998, chap. 7) reported that by 1950, 32 African Americans had received a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in psychology or educational psychology. Psychology also continued to flourish in the nation’s Black colleges and universities—especially after World War II, when these institutions were strengthened due to the influx of former Black soldiers using their GI education benefits. Psychologists of color also began gaining access to clinical psychology jobs in the Veterans Administration system (Evans, 1999a, 1999b; Guthne, 1998, chap. 6).

In addition, the scholarly attacks against the assumptions of scientific racism continued, aided by the increasing stature of research guided by theories and methods related to social attitudes, culture and personality, and social learning. For example, psychologist John Dollard (1937) made use of these new paradigms in his study of racial prejudice in Caste and Class in a Southern Town. In 1944, Swedish social economist Gunnar Myrdal published his classical work on U.S. racism, An American Dilemma, which sought to debunk lingering assumptions of scientific racism and turned the discussion of racism on its head by declaring that the Negro problem was fundamentally “a White man’s problem,” requiring developmental intervention targeted on those social and institutional practices that White men had created (Myrdal, 1944). This study, which involved collaboration with several Black social scientists, served to provide scientific legitimacy and scholarly stature to the efforts of researchers of color.

Additional challenges to scientific racism emerged in response to the anti-Semitism of the Nazis and the resulting Jewish Holocaust. In 1944, the American Jewish Committee authorized a series of studies on prejudice, several of which were conducted by psychologists. Examples of these studies are Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford’s (1950) The Authoritarian Personality and Bettelheim and Janowitz’s (1950) Dynamics of Prejudice.

The use of IQ tests as measures of innate intelligence also continued to be challenged. One of the most notable such projects, which defined the parameters of culturally biased and culturally fair tests, was chaired by African American social anthropologist Allison Davis of the University of Chicago (Eells, Davis, Havinghurst, Herrick, & Tyler, 1951; cf. Guthrie, 1998, p. 78), who in 1941 was also the first African American awarded a full-time faculty appointment at a predominantly White U.S. university.

In general, during the second quarter of the 20th century, the professional status of psychology in ethnic minority communities in many ways mirrored that of mainstream U.S. psychology some 50 to 75 years earlier. That is, ethnic minority psychologists, who at that time were mostly African Americans, were involved in establishing departments of psychology in historically Black colleges and identifying other limited professional opportunities—primarily in education and government sectors.

This first small cadre of psychologists of color confronted a racially segregated social order and highly restricted professional opportunities. Furthermore, psychology’s affiliation with scientific racism also presented ideological barriers. Consequently, these African American psychologists had few opportunities to model their careers after those of their European American psychology colleagues (who had initially modeled themselves after German psychologists). Instead, these early psychologists of color tended to model their behavior and values after those of other African American scholars and intellectuals while drawing their ambitions and intellectual affinities from those of their communities. As a result, this first major cadre of psychologists of color tended to adopt a scholar-activist role (cf. Holliday, 1999) and gravitated to psychological issues with practical applications—especially related to education (Guthrie, 1998, p. 123). Their research typically was tools for community development and advocacy. And their legacy continues to mark the efforts of contemporary psychologists of color.

The second quarter of the 20th century also was an era when the scholarly framework for critique of the assumptions and tenets of scientific racism and related nonprogressive social policy was cogently formulated and formally articulated.

The Third Quarter of the 20th Century

The end of the world war and the dawn of the 1950s spawned self-examination and challenge. Oppressed and colonized people throughout the world initiated liberation and decolonization efforts—especially among people and nations of color. In the world’s western and northern nations, industrialization resulted in a tremendous increase in capital and wealth. Thus, this era involved the creation of new situations and new identities: It was an era of reinvention.

In the United States, the postwar years were characterized by economic growth, an increased emphasis on consumerism, and associated rising expectations. These were bolstered by generous veterans benefits that enabled millions of U.S. citizens to obtain a college education and become homeowners. These programs, along with those of the New Deal, served to reaffirm the U.S. ethos of upward social mobility.

In the nation’s growing communities of color, returning soldiers made active use of veterans benefits, thus laying the groundwork for both an entrenched ethnic minority middle class and what would decades later emerge as the first massive intergenerational transfer of wealth in communities of color. Nevertheless, returning soldiers of color evidenced dissatisfaction and unrest on returning to segregated communities after risking life and limb on battlefields in defense of democracy.

Consequently, it was almost inevitable (although rarely predicted by psychologists or others) that this unrest and dissatisfaction would become manifest in organized social agitation and protest. The agitation and protests of communities of color were punctuated and informed by other events, including urban civil uprisings of the 1960s, the domestic social-political dynamics of the Vietnam War, and federal programs of the 1960s and 1970s (e.g., the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity—i.e., the Johnson administration’s “War Against Poverty” and the Model Cities program), which emphasized the development of grassroots leadership and decision making.

In addition, the Immigration Act of 1965 turned the U.S. pattern of immigration upside down by eliminating immigration quotas based on national origins with favor given to European nationals (Min, 1995, p. 11). These were replaced by three criteria related to (a) occupational skills needed in the U.S. labor market, (b) relationships with persons residing in the United States (family unification), and (c) vulnerability to political and religious persecution. Provision also was made for admission under certain circumstances of “special immigrants” (Min, 1995, p. 11). This policy change would result in catapulting both the growth and diversity of U.S. communities of color.

In regard to unrest and protest, 1954 became a watershed year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. This decision resulted in dismantling the nation’s legally sanctioned segregated public education systems with “all deliberate speed.” This decision also was notable for two other reasons: (a) It was the first Supreme Court decision to involve the citation of psychological data, and (b) the primary architect in the compilation and use of those data was an African American psychologist—Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D. (Benjamin & Crouse, 2002).

Timeline of Challenge and Change: The Inclusion of People of Color in in the United States

1950 The National Science Foundation is established (Street, 1994).
1951 Efrain Sanchez-Hidalgo is the first Puerto Rican awarded a Ph.D. in psychology (Columbia University); dissertation title: “A Study of Symbiotic Relationships Between Friends” (Roca de Torres, 1994b).
1953 The first InterAmerican Congress of Psychology is convened in the Dominican Republic, with Andres Aviles (of that country) elected as president (Street, 1994).
1954 The Puerto Rican Psychological Association is established with Efrain Sanchez-Hidalgo, Ph.D., as its first president (Padilla, 1980a, 1980b; Roca de Torres, 1994b).
U.S. Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Topeka Board of Education and requires the dismantling of racially segregated systems of education “with all deliberate speed.” Decision in part relied on psychological and social science data on the effects of segregation that were prepared by a committee of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI—APA Division 9) that included Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D., Isidor Chein, Ph.D., and Stuart Cook, Ph.D. (Benjamin & Crouse, 2002).
1955 APA Council of Representatives approves its first model legislation for state licensure of professional psychologists (Street, 1994).
1955 Publication of Prejudice and Your Child by African American psychologist Kenneth B. Clark.
1958 Publication of Audrey Shuey’s The Testing of Negro Intelligence, which argues the existence of native [innate] racial IQ differences of 13 to 15 points (Richards, 1997).
1962 Martha Bernai is first Mexican American woman awarded the Ph.D. in psychology (Indiana University) (Bernai, 1994; Street, 1994).
1963 The APA Ad Hoc Committee on Equality of Opportunity in Psychology (CEOP) is established by the APA Board of Directors in response to a proposal from Division 9 (SPSSI) relative to the training and employment of Negroes. The committee is charged “to explore the possible problems encountered in training and employment in psychology as a consequence of race” (APA, 1963; Comas-Diaz, 1990; Wispe et al., 1969).
The Community Mental Health Center Act, which provided funding for construction and operation of community facilities, is signed into law (Street, 1994).
1965 A graduate program in psychology is established at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus (Guillermo Bernai, personal communication, July 24, 1996).
1967 Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Invitation of SPSSI (APA Division 9) delivers a distinguished address at the APA convention on the topic of “The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement.”
1968 The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) is established at the APA Convention in San Francisco, with Charles L. Thomas, Ph.D., and Robert L. Green, Ph.D., elected as co-chairs (Street, 1994; Williams, 1974).
ABPsi Co-Chair Charles L. Thomas presents a Petition of Concerns to the APA Council of Representatives that addresses three major issues: (a) the extremely limited number of Black psychologists and Black graduate and undergraduate students in psychology, (b) the APA’s failure to address social problems such as poverty and racism, and (c) the inadequate representation of Blacks in the APA governance structure (Guzman, Schiavo, & Puente, 1992; Williams, 1974).
Howard University, an HBCU, establishes a Ph.D. program in psychology (Hopkins et al., 1994).
1969 The Black Students Psychological Association (BSPA) is established at the Western Psychological Association meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (Williams, 1974).
BSPA President Gary Simpkins presents demands to the APA related to the recruitment, retention, and training of Black students and faculty (Figueroa-Garcia, 1994; Guzman et al., 1992; Street, 1994; Williams, 1974).
Publication of Arthur Jensen’s Harvard Educational Review monograph, “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” which argues that race IQ differences reflect innate differences assuming hereditability of IQ (Richards, 1997, chap. 9).
1970 The Association of Psychologists Por La Raza (APLR) is founded at the APA convention in Miami (Bernai, 1994).
The APA establishes the Commission for Accelerating Black Participation in Psychology (CABPP), composed of representatives of BSPA, ABPsi, and APA, and charges CABPP to address BSPA’s concerns (Blau, 1970; Williams, 1974).
ABPsi provides all graduate departments of psychology its “Ten-Point Program” for increasing the representation of Blacks in psychology; 35 departments agree to immediately implement the entire program (Williams, 1974).
ABPsi and APA develop a 3-year Black Visiting Scientist program to historically Black colleges and universities (Williams, 1974).
BSPA opens offices in the APA building in Washington, D.C., with APA providing 3 years of funding; Ernestine Thomas is the office’s director and BSPA national coordinator (Figueroa-Garcia, 1994; Williams, 1974).
First issue of Network of Indian Psychologists is published by Carolyn Attneave, Ph.D. (LaFromboise & Fleming, 1990).
Patrick Okura, M.A., a Japanese American psychologist, becomes the executive assistant to the NIMH director and the first ethnic minority psychologist to assume an administrative position at the NIMH.
Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D., an African American, becomes the first person of color to become the APA president (Pickren & Tomes, 2002; Street, 1994).
1971 In response to demands of the Black Psychiatrists of America, the NIMH Center for Minority Group Mental Health Programs is established with a focus on (a) funding investigator-initiated studies on the mental health concerns of ethnic minorities; (b) establishing and administering six research and development centers, each of which focus on mental health needs of a particular racial/cultural group; and (c) initiating the Minority Fellowship Program, which provides funding to five professional associations to administer minority fellowships for research and clinical training in psychiatry, psychology, psychiatric nursing, psychiatric social work, and sociology (Guzman et al, 1992; Parron, 1990).
An early form of the System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment (SOMPA) is published by Jane Mercer and June Lewis (Street, 1994).
1972 The Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) is founded with seed monies provided by APA Division 9 (SPSSI); Derald W. Sue, Ph.D., is elected as president (Leong, 1995; S. Sue, 1994).
The First National Conference on Asian American Mental Health is convened in San Francisco with funding provided by NIMH’s Center for Minority Mental Health Programs (Leong, 1995).
Publication of the first edition of Black Psychology, edited by Reginald L. Jones, Ph.D., which heralds a proactive perspective of the psychology of African Americans.
Psychologist Leon Kamin challenges the authenticity of Sir Cyril Burt’s twin study data, which were frequently cited as proof of the hereditability of IQ.
The Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists issues a “Position Statement on Use of IQ and Ability Test,” which demands that the California State Department of Education declare a moratorium on these tests’ use in assessing Black children (Richards, 1997).
1973 As a result of a vote of the APA membership, the APA Board for Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology is established with a mandate that includes issues related to minority participation in psychology (Pickren & Tomes, 2002).
Participants at the Vail Conference on “Levels and Patterns of Professional Training” form a Task Group on Professional Training and Minority Groups and recommend that the APA create an office and board on ethnic minority affairs (Bernai, 1994; Comas-Diaz, 1990).
Publication of the first edition of Asian Americans: Psychological Perspectives, edited by Stanley Sue, Ph.D., and Nathaniel Wagner, Ph.D.
A national conference on Chicano psychology is convened at the University of California at Riverside by Manuel Ramirez III and Alfred Castefieda with funding provided by NIMH (Bernai, 1994; Padilla & Lindhom, 1980).
Jack Sawyer and David J. Senn publish the landmark Journal of Social Issues article, “Institutional Racism and the American Psychological Association,” which describes how the APA, through an absence of concern about the employment practices of its printers and other suppliers, engaged in institutional racism (Holliday, 1992).
Freda Cheung, Ph.D., is appointed special assistant to the director of NIMH’s Minority Programs and thus becomes the first doctoral-level ethnic minority psychologist hired at NIMH (K. P. Okura, personal communication to A. Homes, July, 2001).
1974 The APA Minority Fellowship Program is established with funding provided by NIMH and Dalmas Taylor, Ph.D., as director (Comas-Diaz, 1990; Guzman et al, 1992).
The Association of Black Psychologists publishes the first issue of the Journal of Black Psychology, edited by William David Smith, Ph.D. (Street, 1994).

The Brown decision can be viewed as the beginning of the civil rights era, which lasted for nearly a quarter of a century and primarily involved various social-legal tactics and challenges as instruments both for securing protections guaranteed by the Reconstruction era’s 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and for eliminating racially differential, legally sanctioned practices that existed throughout U.S. society (cf. Sullivan, 1999). The success of these efforts served to increase the movement’s self-consciousness and concern with group solidarity and self-reliance. It also sparked a revolution in electoral politics in many communities of color.

However, among the nation’s ethnic minority communities, differences in responses to and participation in the civil rights era were grounded in differences among these communities in the types, functions, and maturity of their indigenous organizations and institutions, as well as differences in their contemporary public policy challenges and historical relationships to White America.

Street (1994, chap. 5) has characterized the third quarter of the 20th century as a period when U.S. psychology “comes of age.” Indeed, during this era, psychology did not change as much as it broadened and deepened its areas of interest and public influence. During this quarter century, the number of APA divisions nearly doubled in number, increasing from 19 to 36; the first version of the APA’s Ethical Standards of Psychologists was published in 1953, and the American Psychological Foundation was established in that same year; APA built a new headquarters building (1200 17th St., NW, in Washington, D.C.), which it occupied in 1964; and the Archives of the History of American Psychology was established at the University of Akron in 1965 (Street, 1994, chap. 5).

Professional psychology expanded tremendously, with nearly every state enacting a law for the licensing of psychologists during this era. The APA approved its first standards for predoctoral internships in clinical psychology in 1950, standards for counseling psychology programs were approved in 1951, the organizing meeting of the American Association of State Psychology Boards (now the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards) was held in 1960, and the first independent self-standing graduate professional school of psychology was established in 1968 (i.e., the California School of Professional Psychology, now the Alliant International University) (Street, 1994, chap. 5).

Professional psychology also was influenced profoundly by two other developments. Psychotherapeutic drugs were introduced in the 1950s, which radically changed the manner in which mentally ill and emotionally distressed persons were treated and managed. And in 1963, Congress enacted the Community Mental Health Centers Act, which provided an alternative to inpatient care, facilitated deinstitutionalization of the nation’s mental hospitals, and resulted in the establishment of nearly 300 centers within 4 years (Street, 1994, chap. 5).

Testing continued to expand as an industry, and the APA continued to actively support this expansion. In 1950, the APA created a Committee on Test Standards, and the first Graduate Record Examination (GRE) was published; the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) was published in 1955; the first administration of the American College Test (ACT) occurred in 1959; and the APA published its first Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing in 1966 (Street, 1994, chap. 5).

But as testing continued to expand its spheres of use and influence, it also increasingly confronted legal challenges. Often, these challenges involved racial discrimination issues. In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. that the irrelevant use of intelligence tests as employment screening instruments constituted racial discrimination. In 1975, a similar Supreme Court ruling was made regarding “inappropriate psychological testing” in Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody. In the early 1970s, California courts ruled in the cases Larry P. v. Riles and Diana v. State Board of Education that, respectively for Black and Hispanic students, racial bias resulted when intelligence tests were used as the basis for placement in special education (Street, 1994, chap. 6). African American psychologist Asa G. Hilliard III, Ph.D., was the principal architect and lead expert witness of the Larry P. challenge.

Psychologists continued to conduct research on social attitudes, social learning, and culture and personality that challenged scientific racism’s assumptions of innate racial differences (e.g., Clark, 1955, 1965; Pettigrew, 1964). But this research, which most frequently involved racial comparative research paradigms that subtly promoted assumptions of White superiority, resulted in alternative explanations of the behavior of peoples of color that were equally troubling (cf. Katz, 1969; Pearl, 1970; Rainwater, 1970; Valentine, 1971). For example, Kardiner and Ovesey’s (1951/1962) study of Black personality, The Mark of Oppression, suggested that Blacks’ adaptive response to racism involved the development of pathological personality characteristics, matriarchal families, and emasculated Black males.

Debate related to the appropriate type of education for Black children continued and was expanded to include Hispanic/Latino and other children of color. Educational and developmental researchers such as Riessman (1962) promoted the notion that children of color demonstrated poor educational achievement because they were “culturally deprived.” Cognitive psychology researchers ascribed the poor educational achievement of children of color to their “cognitive style differences” (e.g., Hess, 1970; Hess & Shipman, 1965). Psycholinguistics researchers argued about racial/ethnic differences in the surface and deep structures of language, the effects of linguistic structures and bilingualism on cognitive abilities, and whether “Black English” had characteristics of a dialect or a separate language (e.g., Baratz, 1973; Peal & Lambert, 1962). And, of course, issues related to racial/ethnic differences in IQ scores continued (e.g., Deutsch & Brown, 1964; Dreger, 1973; Lesser, Fifer, & Clark, 1965; Stodolsky & Lesser, 1967). The findings of such research and debates served to influence the design of federally funded programs such as Head Start, various Title I curricular programs for educationally disadvantaged children, and educational television programming, including Sesame Street (Laosa, 1984; Washington, 1988).

Nevertheless, the scientific racists, then as now, continued to exhibit remarkable resilience in the face of increasing countervailing evidence. For example, Audrey Shuey’s (1958) The Testing of Negro Intelligence presented 240 studies that collectively indicated a racial IQ difference of 13 to 15 points (Richards, 1997, pp. 245-246). Arthur Jensen’s (1969) Harvard Educational Review monograph also argued that race differences reflect innate differences indicative of the hereditability of IQ (Richards, 1997, chap. 9).

During the latter part of this era, the APA increasingly became involved in advocacy related to both professional issues and social concerns. In 1957, the APA convention was moved from Miami Beach to New York City due to the former’s racial discrimination in public accommodations. In 1962, the APA filed its first amicus curiae brief in Jenkins v. U.S., which challenged the competence of psychologists to testify regarding determinations of sanity. In 1967, SPSSI (Division 9) asked Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at the APA convention. In 1969, in protest to the brutality inflicted on Vietnam War protesters in Chicago the previous year, the APA convention was moved from Chicago to Washington, D.C. (Pickren & Tomes, 2002; Street, 1994). However, generally in regard to civil rights issues in communities of color, Richards (1997) has argued that the APA was “politically paralyzed by the sheer breadth of its members’ interests and political attitudes. Any general statement about U.S. Psychology and the Civil Rights movement is thus impossible” (p. 238). It was in fact the growing cadre of psychologists of color and their allies that began unparalyzing the APA and its membership.

For psychologists of color, the third quarter of the 20th century was marked by increased diversification and organization. For example, Hispanics/Latinos started gaining a presence in psychology. In 1951, a Puerto Rican (Efrain Sanchez-Hidalgo) was awarded a Ph.D. for the first time. The Puerto Rican Psychological Association was established in 1954, and a graduate program in psychology was established at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, in 1965. In 1962, Martha Bernai became the first Mexican American woman awarded a Ph.D. in psychology.

In 1963, at the urging of the SPSSI (APA Division 9), the APA established the Ad Hoc Committee on Equality of Opportunity in Psychology (CEOP) as an initial effort to “explore the possible problems encountered in training and employment in psychology as a consequence of race” (APA, 1963, p. 769). The committee’s final report (Wispe et al., 1969) documented the underrepresentation of Black psychologists and their alienation from mainstream U.S. psychology.

And then there was the drama of the wake-up call that instigated the APA’s de-paralysis. The call was delivered at the 1968 APA convention in San Francisco, when the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) was established and its representatives walked in on the meeting of the APA Board of Directors and presented the ABPsi’s “Petition of Concern.” This petition addressed the three major issues that would serve as organizing principles for future activities of persons of color in organized psychology. These issues were (a) the low numbers of Black psychologists and Black graduate students in psychology, (b) the APA’s failure to address social problems of concern to communities of color (e.g., IQ testing), and (c) the inadequate representation of Blacks in the APA governance structure (Pickren & Tomes, 2002; Williams, 1974).

The ABPsi example resonated with other psychologists of color. In 1969, a newly established independent Black Students Psychological Association (BSPA) took control of the APA convention podium and demanded that the APA take action to increase ethnic minority recruitment and retention. In response, the APA later provided 3 years of funding for a BSPA office in the APA building. This marked the first time the APA had embraced any organized group of psychology graduate students (Figueroa-Garcia, 1994; Guzman, Schiavo, & Puente, 1992; Pickren & Tomes, 2002; Street, 1994).

By 1975, independent psychological associations had been formed by the other three major racial/ethnic minority groups. These associations, in turn, established newsletters and journals. Once organized, these associations not only strategically challenged the APA and pressed for greater inclusion of people of color but also promoted issues of special concern to their communities. Of even greater significance, the ethnic minority psychological associations became catalysts for the development and promotion of distinctly ethnic-centric psychological theories and practices.

Other developments during this era that supported and further legitimized the concerns of psychologists of color included the following. In 1970, the APA established a Commission for Accelerating Black Participation in Psychology (CABPP). In that same year, African American psychologist Kenneth B. Clark, in his role as APA president, urged the APA Board of Directors to place high priority on issues of social responsibility. Consequently, in 1971, the APA established a Department of Social and Ethical Responsibility and an ad hoc Committee on Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology (CSERP). By vote of the APA membership, the ad hoc committee became a standing board (BSERP) in 1973 with responsibility for aspects of psychology involving solutions to problems of social justice—including issues related to minority participation in psychology (Pickren & Tomes, 2002). Also in 1971, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) established its Center for Minority Group Mental Health Programs, which sought to develop a major focus on minority mental health issues and increase the number of ethnic minorities mental health researchers and providers by funding a Minority Fellowship Program. In 1974, the APA established its Minority Fellowship Program with funding provided by NIMH.

In summary, the third quarter of the 20th century was an era when psychologists of color began to come into their own—comprising sufficient numbers to have a sense of cohort; articulating distinct identities and destinies relative to their communities and the discipline of psychology; assuming leadership roles in organized psychology for the first time; and developing ethnocentric professional networks and organizations where their contributions were wanted and valued, where they could be affirmed as scholars, professionals, and community leaders, and where they could devise strategies for promoting group interests. Consequently, psychologists of color increasingly assumed postures of challenge, protest, and change. Such “coming into their own” was a well-earned prize of the civil rights era.

The Fourth Quarter of the 20th Century

The first three quarters of the 20th century were marked by the breaking down or “modernization” of old social and political boundaries, categories, hierarchies, and systems of privileges and obligations. But in the last quarter of the 20th century, increased efforts were devoted to fashioning new, more global relationships and rules for political, economic, and human interactions that would be compatible with emerging and increasingly “unbounded” social realities marked by increased worldwide demand for limited natural resources, global communication and markets, and a plethora of emerging technologies. Such efforts, though often chaotic and wrenching, were integral to the movement toward a postmodern world.

Walls between the Western and Eastern worlds continued to fall either as a result of intrusion or decay. For example, Islam and Muslim discontent began to enter into the contemporary American imagination when Iranian Muslim militants seized 52 hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, who were not released until more than a year later. The breadth and depth of this discontent were further reinforced by the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the assassination of Egypt’s premier Anwar Sadat in 1991. Communist regimes fell throughout Eastern Europe, culminating in the collapse of the U.S.S.R. (Soviet Union) in 1991. Apartheid in South Africa came under international attack when economic sanctions were imposed in 1986. As a result of these and other events, political conceptualizations of the world began shifting from West-East (democratic-nondemocratic governments) to North-South (Western/European-non-European peoples/ cultures; consumers of natural resources-holders of natural resources; former colonialists-former colonized; rich-poor).

In the United States, the pull of immigration policies that were revamped in the mid-1960s and a fairly continually growing U.S. economy, coupled with the push of political and ecological turmoil throughout the world, caused the U.S. population to become increasingly diverse and colored. For example, among Latinos, in the 1970s, political turmoil sparked a significant immigration of Colombians, which was subsequently followed by waves of immigration from Central America (e.g., Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans) (Gonzalez, 2000, pp. 77, 78). Similarly, the U.S. evacuation of Saigon in 1975 marked the beginning of significant immigration of Southeast Asians, including persons from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Between 1975 and 1985, more than 700,000 Southeast Asian refugees settled in the United States (Nishio & Bilmes, 1987/1998). Immigration from East Asia (e.g., Pakistan, India), Africa, and the Caribbean also increased dramatically during this era. Documented and undocumented immigration from Mexico also continued and increased. Demographers began projecting that by the year 2050, the majority of the nation’s population would be of non-European descent. And the nation’s political culture became increasingly conservative.

Timeline of Challenge and Change: The Inclusion of People of Color in in the United States

1975 As a result of the California Supreme Court’s decision in Larry P. v. Riles that use of intelligence tests results in racial bias in the placement of students into programs for the educable mentally retarded, the California Board of Education declares a moratorium on the uses of such tests for such purposes. African American psychologist Asa G. Hilliard III served as principal architect and lead expert witness of this challenge of the use of IQ tests (Bowser, 1996; Street, 1994)
The Society of Indian Psychologists (SIP) is established (LaFromboise, 1994).
1976 The National Asian American Psychology Training Conference is convened at California State University at Long Beach with a focus on “Models of Psychology for Asian Americans” and “Training Psychologists for Asian Americans” (Leong, 1995; Street, 1994; S. Sue, 1994).
1977 Publication of the first edition of Chicano Psychology, edited by Joe Martinez, Ph.D. (Bernai, 1994).
1978 With the leadership of Dalmas Taylor, Ph.D., the Dulles Conference is convened by the APA Board of Directors, the APA Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility, and NIMH on the topic of “Expanding the Roles of Culturally Diverse Peoples in the Profession of Psychology” and recommends the establishment of an APA office and board on ethnic minority affairs (Comas-Diaz, 1990; Guzman et al, 1992; Street, 1994; S. Sue, 1994).
Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D., receives the first APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest (Street, 1994).
John Garcia, Ph.D., is first Mexican American/Latino elected to the Society of Experimental Psychologists (Padilla, 1980a, 1980b).
The APA Ad Hoc Committee on Minority Affairs is established and later notes that major areas of ethnic minority concern include (a) psychological and educational testing, (b) APA accreditation criteria and procedures, (c) ethnic minority curriculum issues, (d) licensure/certification issues, (e) publication/editorial activities, (f) underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in APA’s governance structure, and (g) APA’s involvement in court and legislative advocacy (Comas-Diaz, 1990; Holliday, Figueroa-Garcia, & Perry, 1994).
1979 The APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs is established, with Estaban Olmedo, Ph.D., as its director (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
The National Hispanic Psychological Association (NHPA) is established with Carlos Albizu-Miranda elected as president (Bernai, 1994; Padilla & Lindhom, 1980).
The first issue of the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science is published with Amado Padilla, Ph.D., as editor (Bernai, 1994; Jones & Campagna, 1995; Street, 1994).
The first issue of the Journal of Asian American Psychological Association is published with Roger Lum, Ph.D., as editor (Leong, 1995; Street, 1994).
U.S. District Court rules that in regards to Larry P. v. Riles, California’s use of standardized intelligence testing in schools for purposes of placing children in special education was discriminatory and therefore illegal (Guthrie, 1998; Hilliard, 1983; Street, 1994).
APA approves revised Criteria for Accreditation of Doctoral Training Programs and Internships in Professional Psychology, one of which (Criterion II) relates to cultural and individual diversity (e.g., “Social and personal diversity of faculty and student is an essential goal if the trainees are to function optimally within our pluralistic society. Programs must develop knowledge and skills in their students relevant to human diversity.”) (Guzman et al., 1992, pp. 202-203).
John Garcia, Ph.D., is the first Mexican American/Latino selected for receipt of a major APA award—the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Bernai, 1994; Padilla, 1980a; Street, 1994).
Logan Wright, Ph.D., is the first person of American Indian heritage elected to the APA Board of Directors.
1980 By vote of the APA membership, the APA Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs (BEMA) is established; Henry Tomes, Ph.D., is elected as chair.
1981 BEMA establishes the Task Force on Minority Education and Training.
1984 BEMA establishes the Task Force on Communication with Minority Constituents, which is charged to (a) identify and increase ethnic minority membership in divisions and state associations, (b) help divisions and state associations establish ethnic minority-oriented committees, and (c) increase ethnic minority participation in APA governance (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
The APA Publication and Communication (P&C) Board establishes the Ad Hoc Committee on Increasing the Representation of Underrepresented Groups in the Publication Process (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
First issue of the Puerto Rican Journal of Psychology is published by the Puerto Rican Association of Psychologists (Roca de Torres, 1994a).
1985 BEMA, with the approval of the APA Council of Representatives, establishes the BEMA Committee on Ethnic Minority Human Resources Development (CEMHRD) to address ethnic minority student and faculty recruitment and retention, as well as development of ethnic minority education and training resources, and appoints Martha Bernai, Ph.D., as CEMHRD’s chair.
The first national convention of the Asian American Psychological Association is held in Los Angeles (Leong, 1995; Street, 1994).
NIMH is reorganized; ethnic minority research is “mainstreamed”—all of NIMH’s three research divisions assume responsibility for funding ethnic minority-focused research and ethnic minority investigators (Parrón, 1990).
1986 The Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (APA’s Division 45) is established (Comas-Diaz, 1990; Street, 1994).
The Society for the Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities is established as Section VI of APA’s Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) (M. Jenkins, 1994).
Logan Wright is the first person of American Indian heritage to be elected president of the APA (Street, 1994).
1987 The APA Central Office is restructured into three directorates (Science, Practice, and Public Interest); James M. Jones, Ph.D., an African American, serves as interim director of the Public Interest directorate (Street, 1994).
The BEMA/BSERP Task Force on the Status of Black Men and Its Impact on Families and Communities is established (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
The BEMA Task Force on the Delivery of Services to Ethnic Minority Populations is established and later issues APA council-approved Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic and Culturally Diverse Populations, under the chairship of Joseph Pine, Ph.D. (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
As an outcome of the Publication and Communications Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Increasing the Representation of Underrepresented Groups in the Publication Process, the Journal of Educational Psychology establishes the Underrepresented Groups Project (UGP), whose major activities include creating a position of associate editor for a person of color who, with the assistance of an ethnic minority advisory group, assumes responsibility for both encouraging the publication of research on educational psychology issues of concern to ethnic minorities and developing a mentoring process for ethnic minority scholars (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
APA sponsors the Utah National Conference on Graduate Education in Psychology, which incorporates a focus on “Cultural Diversity: How Do We Enhance Graduate Education in a Multicultural World?”—including issues related to curricula and increased participation of people of color as students and teachers (Comas-Diaz, 1990).
1988 Publication of the first edition of the Directory of Ethnic Minority Professionals in Psychology, edited by Christine Iijima Hall, Ph.D. (Figueroa-Garcia, 1994).
1990 APA governance structure is reorganized; the Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs (BEMA) and the Board for Social and Ethical Responsibility (BSERP) are sunset, and in their stead the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) is established with Melba J. Vazquez, Ph.D., as its elected chair; the APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) is established with Bertha G. Holliday, Ph.D., as its elected chair (Holliday, 1992; Street, 1994).
Richard Suinn, Ph.D., is the first Asian American to serve on the APA Board of Directors.
The Ethnic Minority Caucus of the APA Council of Representatives is established with Lillian Comas-Diaz, Ph.D., elected as its chair, and Alice F. Chang, Ph.D., elected as its secretary/treasurer.
1991 The National Conference on Enhancing the Quality of Undergraduate Education in Psychology is convened at St. Mary’s College of Maryland with ethnic minority student issues as one of its seven topics of focus, including discussions on such issues as (a) broadening the curriculum to include more ethnic minority issues and researchers, (b) creating a sense of community and managing classes with diverse students, and (c) ethnic minority recruitment strategies (Guzman et al., 1992; Street, 1994).
1992 APA’s Public Interest Directorate sponsors the first APA mini-convention (at the Washington, D.C., APA Centennial Convention) focused on ethnic minorities: “Ethnic Minorities: Issues and Concerns for Psychology, Now and in the Future.” The mini-convention was organized by OEMA Director L. Philip Guzman, Ph.D. (Holliday, 1992).
At the Centennial APA Convention in Washington, D.C., the Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests is established on adoption of the CNPAAEMI Governing Rules. CNPAAEMI is composed of the presidents of the nation’s ethnic minority psychological associations and the APA (Council of National Psychological Associations, 1992).
Joseph Horvat, Ph.D., an American Indian of the Seneca-Coyuga tribe, is the first ethnic minority person elected president of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association.
Gail E. Wyatt, Ph.D., an African American, is the first person of color to receive a NIMH Research Scientist Career Award (Street, 1994).
Joseph Horvat, Ph.D., an American Indian of the Seneca-Coyuga tribe, is the first ethnic minority elected as president of the Psi Chi National Honor Society.
1993 With the leadership of Jessica Henderson Daniel, Ph.D., and chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists, Massachusetts becomes the first state to require program and experience related to racial/ethnic basis of behavior for licensure (Daniel, 1994).
APA Council of Representatives passes a resolution declaring ethnic minority recruitment and retention as a high priority.
1994 Alice Chang, Ph.D., is the first ethnic minority female to serve on the APA Board of Directors.
The APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology is established by the APA Board of Directors with Richard M. Suinn, Ph.D., appointed as chair by APA President Ronald Fox, Ph.D.
Publication of Murray and Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve, which argues the existence of innate racial IQ differences and sets forth associated public policy recommendations.
Publication of J. P. Rushton’s Race, Evolution and Behavior, which promotes a sociobiological evolutionary approach to racial IQ differences.
African American psychologist Brian Smedley, Ph.D., becomes the first ethnic minority to direct the APA’s Public Interest Public Policy Office. During his tenure, ethnic minority issues are formally placed on the APA’s legislative advocacy agenda for the first time.
1995 Volume 1 of the AAPA Monograph Series is issued with Nolan Zane, Ph.D., and Yoshito Kawahara, Ph.D., as coeditors.
Jennifer Friday, Ph.D., is the first African American to be elected president of the Southeast Psychological Association (SEPA).
APA Council of Representatives approves revised “guidelines and principles for accreditation of programs in professional psychology,” including “Domain D: Cultural and individual differences and diversity,” which calls for programs to make “systematic, coherent and long-term efforts to attract and retain students and faculty [or interns and staff]” from diverse backgrounds; “ensure a supportive and encouraging learning environment appropriate for the training of diverse individuals”; and provide a “coherent plan to provide students [or interns] with relevant knowledge and experience about the role of cultural and individual diversity in psychological phenomena and professional practice” (APA, Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, 1996).
The XXV Interamerican Congress is held in San Juan, Puerto, with Irma Serrano-Garcia as Congress president.
1996 With funding provided by the Office of Special Populations of the Center for Mental Health Services, APA initiates “HBCU Training Capacity Grant” program through which small grants are competitively awarded to psychology departments at historically Black colleges and universities for activities that will strengthen a department’s capacity to effectively recruit, retain, and train students of color for careers in psychology (APA, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 1996).
Publication of Handbook of Tests and Measurements for Black Populations (2 volumes), edited by Reginald L. Jones, Ph.D.
APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs is awarded a $750,000 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for the purpose of demonstrating the effectiveness of a “systemic approach” for increasing the number of persons of color in the educational pipeline for biomedical research careers in psychology. Later, in the year 2000, the grant is renewed for $1.43 million.
1997 APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs organizes within the annual APA convention a mini-convention on “Psychology and Racism,” focusing on the three themes of (a) the psychology of racism, (b) racism in psychology, and (c) the psychology of antiracism and involving 121 events and 449 speakers (APA, 1997).
1998 Japanese American psychologist Patrick Okura and his wife, Lily, establish the Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation through use of their 1988 federal reparations payments of $20,000 to each Japanese American interned in camps during World War II. The foundation seeks to assist and develop emerging Asian American leaders in human services fields to become national leaders (Chamberlain, 1998; Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation, 1998; Yoshioka, 2001).
1999 APA’s Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues), in collaboration with Divisions 17 (Counseling) and 35 (Psychology of Women), organize the first National Multicultural Conference and Summit in Newport Beach, California, chaired by Derald W. Sue, Ph.D.
APA’s Division 45 initiates publication of its journal Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology with Lillian Comas-Diaz, Ph.D., as its first editor.
The APA Council of Representatives passes a resolution on affirmative action and equal opportunity that encourages “psychological and public policy research that would illuminate sources of bias in institutional policies and practices.”
2000 The APA Council of Representatives authorizes funding for a CEMRRAT Textbook Initiatives Work Group that is charged to develop guidelines on the inclusion of information and research on diverse populations for publishers and authors of introductory psychology textbooks (APA, 2001).
The APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs establishes its Psychology in Ethnic Minority Services Institutions (PEMSI) initiative, aimed at strengthening relationships between the APA and these institutions and promoting increased psychological education, training and research at these institutions (APA, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2000).
2001 The APA Council of Representatives passes a resolution on “Racial/Ethnic Profiling and Other Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Law and Security Enforcement Activities” (APA, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2001).
The APA Council of Representatives passes a resolution on “Racism and Racial Discrimination: A Policy Statement in Support of the Goals of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance” (APA, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2001a).
The APA’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs provide financial support for an APA six-member delegation to the United Nations (UN) World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa. Delegates are Corann Okorodudu, Ed.D. (delegation chair and the APA main representative to the UN); Thema Bryant, Ph.D. (an APA representative to the UN); A. J. Franklin, Ph.D. (president, Division 45); Bertha G. Holliday, Ph.D. (director, OEMA); James Jackson, Ph.D. (member of APA’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology); and William Parham, Ph.D. (member of APA’s Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs APA, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2001b; APA, 2002).
Congress authorizes a major center and initiative at the National Institutes of Health on minority health and health disparities. The APA successfully advocated for the participation of psychologists in this initiative.
2002 APA’s Council of Representatives unanimously confirms African American psychologist Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., as the APA Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2003.

During the last quarter of the 20th century, U.S. psychology increased its organization and established more state psychological associations and APA divisions. Despite the financial mishap involving the 1983 purchase and later 1988 sale of the magazine Psychology Today, the APA prospered financially as a result of its continuously growing membership, its expanded publication and research literature abstracting activities, and its real estate development successes. The visibility of ethnic minorities, women, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons significantly increased within the discipline and the association. This was accompanied by demands that attention also be paid to those persons at the intersections of such special interest and identity groups.

In addition, the influence of professional psychology (i.e., clinical and counseling psychologists) continued to grow. When a 1987-1988 proposal to enhance the power of academic and scientist interests through reorganization of the APA’s governance structure into two to five autonomous/semi-autonomous assemblies or societies was not approved by the APA Council of Representatives and membership, many academics left the APA and formed a second national psychological association, the American Psychological Society.

Nevertheless, the APA continued its growth and development. For example, in 1987, the APA’s Central Office was reorganized into a directorate structure (Practice, Science, Public Interest, and Education). With an eye toward its future growth, in 1988, the APA approved the establishment of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS). In 1991, the APA’s governance structure was modified to align it with the reorganized staff structure. Boards of Education, Professional, and Scientific Affairs were maintained. A Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest was created, and the Boards for Ethnic Minority Affairs (BEMA) and Social and Ethical Responsibility (BSERP) were sunset. In 1991, the APA Public Policy Office was established to engage in federal legislative advocacy on behalf of APA’s Science, Education, and Public Interest directorates. And in 1992, the APA occupied its newly built headquarters building (750 First St., NE, in Washington, D.C.).

Despite the loss of some important and well-earned gains, the community of psychologists of color significantly strengthened during this era—in terms of not only number but also increased diversity and greater influence within organized psychology and the general society. This strengthening enabled these psychologists to mount comprehensive programs of research and action that focused primarily on crystallizing two of the major themes of ethnic minority psychology: the pursuit of ethnic minority inclusion and participation in psychology, as well as the development and promulgation of theories and interventions derived from the cultures, traditional values and worldviews, and historical experiences of ethnic minority peoples. Examples of such efforts are provided below.

The Pursuit of Ethnic Minority Inclusion and Participation

One of the major strategies for ethnic minority inclusion and participation focused on ethnic minority leadership development and opportunities. A major catalyst for this strategy was the set of recommendations resulting from the 1978 Dulles Conference on “Expanding the Roles of Culturally Diverse Peoples in the Profession of Psychology,” which was sponsored by the APA Board of Directors, the APA Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility (which tended to be dominated by SPSSI members), and the NIMH. Major conference recommendations related to the need for an institutionalized ethnic minority presence in the governance and organizational structures of organized psychology. As a result, the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs was established in 1979, the APA Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs (BEMA) was established in 1980 after a successful related by laws vote by the APA membership, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (APA Division 45) was established in 1986 (Comas-Diaz, 1990; Guzman et al., 1992; Street, 1994; S. Sue, 1994).

Over time, each of these entities assumed a role that was distinct but mutually supportive. For example, Division 45, as a “speciality area” group, focused its efforts on promoting the stature and visibility of scientific and practice issues of concern to ethnic minority psychologists and communities, primarily through establishment of its journal and the biennial National Multicultural Conference and Summit.

BEMA (and its successor—the APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs [CEMA]), in its role as an APA governance group, not only monitored and contributed to greater equity and less racial/ethnic bias in APA policymaking but also identified and legitimized major issues and initiatives needed to increase the participation and stature of ethnic minorities in psychology.

In turn, many of these initiatives were actually carried out by staff of the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. Examples of such initiatives during this era include encouraging the development of division and state psychological association Committees on Ethnic Minority Affairs as a strategy for increasing minority membership and participation, publishing a directory of minority psychologists, advocating accreditation criteria that specifically address diversity and multicultural training issues, identifying multicultural experts who could serve as members of accreditation site visit teams, and developing formats for communicating with ethnic minority psychologists (Comas-Diaz, 1990; Figueroa-Garcia, 1994; Holliday, 1992; Street, 1994).

Ethnic minority recruitment, retention, and training were a second major strategy for increasing minority inclusion and participation in psychology. Such efforts were guided by a series of surveys and studies that documented the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in psychology as both students and faculty (e.g., Kennedy & Wagner, 1979; Padilla, Boxley, & Wagner, 1973; Ponterotto et al, 1995; Suinn & Witt, 1982; Wyche & Graves, 1992). In 1981, the APA reported the results of its first comprehensive study of ethnic minorities in psychology (Russo, Olmedo, Strapp, & Fulcher, 1981). A follow-up to this study was released in 1990 (Kohout & Pion, 1990). Other studies sought to document strategies for eliminating such underrepresentation and improving training on minority-related issues (e.g., Bernai & Padilla, 1982; Fisher & Strieker, 1979; Hammond & Yung, 1993; Korchin, 1980; Quintana & Bernai, 1995; Rogers, Ponterotto, Conoley, & Wiese, 1992; Thomason, 1999). In 1988, an edited book, Is Psychology for Them? A Guide to Undergraduate Advising, included chapters that focused on minority recruitment and retention issues (Woods, 1988). In response to the minimal numbers of American Indians in psychology, in 1993, the first federally funded Indians into Psychology Doctoral Education (InPsyDE) was established in the clinical psychology training program at the University North Dakota (McDonald, 1994).

Coupled with these scholarly works and efforts, during the 7-year period from 1985 to 1992, no less than 14 federal and professional association task forces, committees, and conferences focused their efforts on ethnic minority recruitment, retention, and training issues in psychology (Holliday, Figueroa-Garcia, & Perry, 1994; Holliday et al, 1997).

The sheer volume and unyielding persistence related to the need for increased numbers of ethnic minorities in psychology of the various ethnic minority constituencies and their supporters were bound to move even a prone-to-paralysis APA. The breakthrough came in 1994, when the APA Council of Representatives, at the urging of the APA Education Directorate, passed a resolution declaring that “APA places a high priority on issues related to the education of ethnic minorities” (APA Council of Representatives, 1994). This was a green light for action.

Shortly thereafter, APA President Ronald E. Fox, Ph.D., authorized the establishment of a 15-member Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT) to assess the status of and barriers to the participation of persons of color in American psychology and to develop a 5-year plan to guide the association’s efforts in this area. The commission also engaged in a major education and information effort involving the development of various pamphlets, Web documents, and association newsletter articles that were widely distributed to all of the nation’s departments of psychology (Holliday et al, 1997, pp. 33-35).

The commission’s final report (Holliday et al., 1997) included six major recommendations as well as a 5-year Plan for Transformation. In 1996, consistent with those plan proposals related to increasing ethnic minority student recruitment, retention, and training, the APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA) applied for and was awarded a $750,000 grant from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences to demonstrate a “systemic” approach for recruiting, retaining, and training ethnic minority students interested in the biomedical areas of psychology at 14 major research and predominantly minority institutions. In the year 2000, the grant was renewed for $1.43 million.

Furthermore, in 1999, at the urging of the APA Council of Representatives, the APA chief executive officer authorized the allocation of $100,000 per year for at least 5 years for implementing the CEMRRAT 5-Year Plan. The bulk of these funds has been used for a CEMRRAT Implementation Grant Program that provides modest support for various innovative efforts of psychology departments, state psychological associations, and other organized entities of psychology, APA offices, and individual psychologists that are consistent with the plan’s strategies.

As a result of these and other efforts within the APA and other psychological associations and societies, ethnic minority participation in organized psychology increased significantly during this quarter century—although minorities continue to be significantly under-represented in psychology. For example, in 1978, the APA had an estimated 1,384 ethnic minority members; by 1999, that number had increased nearly fourfold to 5,297 or 6.1% of all APA associates, members, and fellows (APA, Research Office, 2001; Russo et al, 1981). Even more encouraging are data indicating that in 1999-2000, 17.9% of all full-time first-year students in doctoral-level departments of psychology were ethnic minorities (APA, Research Office, 2001).

Development of Ethnocentric Theories and Interventions

In response to the prevailing deficit orientation of the era’s psychological research on ethnic minorities, psychologists of color increasingly assumed postures of challenge by focusing on the strengths, positive adaptations, and resilience of children and families and persons of color. In doing so, these psychologists and their allies adopted explicitly nonnormative perspectives that did not require presumptions of universal normative standards. Consequently, psychologists of color increasingly embraced cultural-specific and ethnocentric values, beliefs, and perspectives as tools for both guiding their research and practice and understanding the behaviors of persons of color. This served to not only mute some of the more controversial conclusions of the deficit orientation; it also served to affect paradigmatic shifts away from universal theories and normative assumptions toward more population- and cultural-specific approaches to psychological knowledge, research, training, and practice. What follows is a brief overview of the focus of this increasing body of culture-specific and ethnocentric efforts of psychologists of color.

In general, in articulating ethnocentric psychological theories and perspectives, psychologists of color have either revived such theories from those existing in the cultural group or constructed such theories in response to unique characteristics and experiences of the ethnic/racial group. For example, Ramirez (1998) has constructed a bicultural theory of Mestizo psychology in response to what he views as “a new race and new culture” resulting from the European colonization of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Caribbean, the importation of enslaved Africans into those areas, and the associated intermarriage among these groups.

Similar psychological theories reflecting a bicultural perspective have been developed to explain the psychological experiences and triumphs of African Americans. Examples include A. Jenkins’s (1982) humanistic theory and Franklin’s (1998) theory of invisibility. Other more African-centered theories have been constructed in response both to the need to explain the African American experience and to the assumptions that enslavement resulted in African Americans having no cultural referent other than that of the United States (i.e., European). These theories draw heavily on a wide-ranging array of African philosophical, spiritual, and cultural concepts. Examples include Nobles’ (1972) theory, which builds on the African notion of the importance of the group to the individual’s sense of identity; Akbar’s (1977) theory, which highlights the African cultural emphasis on affective orientation, including caring, empathy, and cooperative efforts as significant sources of behavioral motivation; Baldwin’s (1981) theory, in which cultural traits of African people are viewed as at least partially biogenetic in origin, and maladjustment is viewed as the result of cognitive misorientation associated with loss of contact with one’s cultural roots; and L. J. Myers’s (1988) optimal psychology theory, which emphasizes the oneness of all, the individual’s embeddedness in a larger spiritual force, and the individual’s construction of reality.

Recently articulated ethnocentric psychological theories also emphasize the critical role of ethnic/racial identity development. These theories, which often take the form of dynamic stage models, typically attempt to describe how people seek to develop a positive sense of self in the context of minority and nondominant group status. Examples include Cross’s (1971, 1991) model of Negro-to-Black conversion; Parham’s (1989) African-centered theory of cycles of Nigrescence, which postulates identity development processes throughout the life cycle; Helms’s (1990) Black and White racial identity theory; and Ramirez’s (1998) model of stages and patterns of bicultural identity development.

Other psychologists of color have noted the pivotal role of acculturation in ethnic minority identity and behavior (e.g., Amaro, Russo, & Pares-Avila, 1987; Padilla, 1980b; Rogler, Cortes, & Malgady, 1991; Tomine, 1991) and argue that acculturation need not result in assimilation (i.e., a loss of connection to one’s culture of origin) but also may result in biculturalism (LaFromboise, Trimble, & Mohatt, 1998; Szapocznik, Kurtines, & Fernandez, 1980).

It should be noted that many concepts of the various constructed ethnocentric theories are mirrored in American Indian psychological perspectives, which are embedded in extant traditional Indian core values and beliefs that emphasize the life force and interconnectedness of all things and the associated need for harmony, balance, and cooperation. Wellness reflects balance and integration in one’s life, harmony with the universe, and respectful coexistence (cf. Duran & Duran, 1995; Garrett, 1999; Garrett & Garrett, 1994). Also, traditional Native Hawaiian psychological perspectives reflect similar core values and beliefs (Ito, 1987; Marsella, Oliveira, Plummer, & Crabbe, 1998).

Traditional Chinese psychological perspectives emphasize interconnectiveness, maintenance of harmonious interpersonal relations and avoidance of confrontation, subordination of the individual to the group, and social control through shame and loss of face (Huang, 1991). Similar perspectives have been documented for other Asian groups such as the Japanese (Fugita, Ito, Abe, & Takeuchi, 1991) and Koreans (Lee & Cynn, 1991), although significant differences exist among such Asian groups related to a great extent on the religious or spiritual orientation of a given culture (Chung & Okazaki, 1991; D. Sue, 1998).

Psychologists of color also have participated in the development of a research literature on cultural-specific conceptions of mental illness. For example, Stanley Sue (1976) has documented the differences in the conceptions of European American and Asian American students, whereas T’ien (1985) has documented the traditional beliefs of Chinese about mental illness. Nishio and Bilmes (1987/1998) have described the somatization of mental illness among Southeast Asian refugees. Others have described American Indian concepts of mental health and illness (e.g., Garrett, 1999; Trimble, 1981; Trimble, Manson, Dinges, & Medicine, 1984).

Often, such conceptions are linked with unique patterns of symptomatology. For example, Mezzich, Ruiz, and Munoz (1999) noted that ethnic/racial-specific symptomatology is of three types: (a) group-based manifestations of standard diagnostic categories, (b) culture-bound syndromes (i.e., folk illness categories), and (c) cultural idioms of distress. Examples of the former have been noted for depression (Marsella, Kinzie, & Gordon, 1973; Mezzich & Raab, 1980), whereas the last category is exemplified by Ataque de nervios (Guarnaccia, De La Cancela, & Carrilo, 1989). In addition, Duran and Duran (1995) have elaborated the unique intergenerational posttraumatic stress syndrome resulting from the colonization and forced acculturation of American Indians. Unique forms of posttraumatic stress also have been noted among Southeast Asian immigrants and refugees (Chung & Okazaki, 1991; Kinzie et al, 1990; Mollica, Wyshak, & Lavelle, 1987). Rezentes (1996) has described two cultural-specific syndromes rooted in the historical experiences of Native Hawaiians. One is a type of depression—kaumaha syndrome—that is rooted in collective sadness and moral outrage of the colonial experience, as well as a pattern of spiritually empty selfish behavior termed the ha’ole syndrome.

Such ethnic/racial-specific symptomatologies often are associated with various indigenous interventions or treatments, which have been described by psychologists of color. Such treatments traditionally are provided by varying types of traditional healers who engage in such curative activities as confession, atonement, and absolution; restoration of balance, harmony, and wholeness; involvement of the family and community in treatment (reinforcement of community values); and communication with the supernatural or ancient world (cf. Garrett, Garrett, & Brotherton, 2001; Grills & Rowe, 1998; LaFromboise, 1998; Ramirez, 1998).

Examples of traditional treatments that have been incorporated into contemporary psychological practice include Ho’oponopono—a traditional Native Hawaiian practice used for conflict resolution and group and family therapy (Ito, 1985; Marsella et al, 1998; Mokuau, 1990); the Morita and Naikan therapies, which are rooted in Buddhism (Fugita et al., 1991); acupuncture; various American Indian practices, including dream and vision therapies, the medicine wheel, and healing circles (Duran & Duran, 1995; Garrett & Garrett, 1994; Garrett et al, 2001); and African-inspired rites of passage.

It also should be noted that in addition to the clinical and counseling areas, psychologists of color have made and are making equally significant contributions to scientific areas of psychology. Psychologists of color have engaged in innovative research aimed at rehabilitating the reputations of children of color and their families, as well as documenting and enhancing their academic achievement, resilience, and cognitive, behavioral, and psychological strengths (e.g., Harrison, Seráfica, & McAdoo, 1984; Jones, 1999; McAdoo & McAdoo, 1985; McLoyd & Steinberg, 1998; Spencer, Brookins, & Allen, 1985). Psychologists of color also have addressed issues related to research methods and procedures in communities of color (e.g., Caldwell, Jackson, Tucker, & Bowman, 1999; Council of National Psychological Associations, 2000; Jones, 1996). Currently, psychologists of color are conducting some of the most significant seminal research in such areas as racial/ ethnic psychopharmacology (e.g., Lawson, 1998; Strickland, Lawson, & Lin, 1993) and mental health disparities (e.g., Carpenter, 2002; Haynes & Smedley, 1999; Myers, Anderson, & Strickland, 1998; Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2002).

This very brief and selective overview of research during the last quarter of the 20th century is indicative of the exceptional giftedness and productivity associated with both the maturation of the first major cohort of U.S. psychologists of color and their nurturance and mentorship of a younger second cohort, who will help define U.S. psychology in the 21st century.

Looking Backwards Toward the Future

The tale of challenge and change of ethnic minorities in U.S. psychology is remarkable in its uniqueness. For it is the tale of people who endured enslavement, colonization, internment, and other forms of blatant oppression and exclusion. It is the tale of people who were objects of a concept and ideology—scientific racism—that was integral to the justification of their oppression and exclusion. It is the tale of a scientific discipline that embraced that concept, contributed to its legitimacy, and simultaneously struggled against it. It is the tale of people who, not withstanding all of this, had faith that the discipline of psychology could somehow make an important difference in communities of color. It is the tale of people who, less than a lifetime ago, were being documented by that discipline as innately inferior human beings and who are now that discipline’s major transformational force for a psychological science, practice, and ideology appropriate for the multicultural and global realities of the 21st century. It is quite simply a tale of wonder.

This tale also is a primer for the value and significance of diversity. In contrast to popular conceptions, diversity is not simply a matter of appropriate representational numbers of persons of color in the service of a colorblind society. Diversity is a transformational and revitalization change strategy that recognizes the unique benefits to all of multicultural/multiracial experiences and perspectives. In psychology, that change is resulting in a substantive broadening of knowledge and skills that is serving to significantly expand the range of psychological practice and research.

Nevertheless, important barriers continue to exist to the full participation of persons of color in psychology. These include continuing racial/ethnic inequities in student and faculty recruitment, retention, training, and curricular representation. Much more substantial barriers and ethnic/racial underrepresentation exist in the discipline’s two major knowledge “gatekeeper” functions: (a) editors of scientific and professional journals in psychology and (b) federal and foundation grant administrators of psychological research. These gatekeeper functions undoubtedly will be the next target of the focused and coordinated action that consistently has been demonstrated by psychologists of color and their allies. For access to these functions is essential for a transformed U.S. psychology.

Indeed, U.S. psychology is undergoing a paradigm shift. Ramirez’s (1998) perspective suggests that this shift from a Eurocentric psychology toward a multicultural/multiracial psychology is characterized by (a) recognition of the unity of spirit, mind, body, and behavior; (b) development of new terminology, concepts, and methods that are more appropriate for and respectful of communities of color and diverse populations; (c) increased use of multidisciplinary knowledge and methods; (d) research questions and professional practices that recognize the individual’s embeddedness in a variety of cultural/ historical and social/ecological systems; and (e) increased emphasis on psychologists’ social responsibility, including the need to incorporate advocacy and service into research, educator, and practitioner roles.

This is the future of ethnic minority psychology—as well as the future of U.S. psychology.