The Problem of Kenneth Clark
KENNETH CLARK has been so frequently celebrated in public that one scarcely knows by now just which of his burdens may be more difficult for him to bear-the weight of his collected honors or the authority that has been settled upon him by the gracing touch of officiality. For a long time Clark has professed psychology at the City University of New York, but his career was launched on a larger public stage some twenty years ago, when he was called in as an expert witness in the litigation surrounding Brown v. Board of Education. That case involved, of course, the challenge posed against the policy of assigning students to separate schools on the basis of race. When the Supreme Court reached its decision in Brown, it declared that segregated education was “inherently unequal” even if the facilities in the separate schools were essentially comparable, and it claimed that its finding in this respect was “amply supported by modern authority” in the field of psychology. Where the Court found this “authority” most importantly was in a statement that Clark had drafted for the Court, and among the references it cited, the most prominent place was given to one of Clark’s own publications.
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