During Black History month, and every month, we celebrate the contributions of notable black figures who have played a significant role in the neuropsychology and health services. These pioneers have not only advanced the field but also helped to address the unique challenges faced by underrepresented populations.
Join us in learning more, and honoring their valuable work.
Bebe Moore Campbell
One notable figure in the mental health advocacy space is Bebe Moore Campbell, a black American author, journalist, teacher, and advocate. Campbell dedicated her life to raising awareness of the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented groups. She founded NAMI-Inglewood, a safe space for Black people to discuss mental health issues, in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Campbell also traveled to Washington, DC where, on June 2, 2008, Congress officially designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The aim of this designation is to draw attention to the unique mental health challenges faced by underrepresented populations in the US.
Dr. Carlton Haywood Jr.
Dr. Carlton Haywood Jr. is a black neuropsychologist who has made significant contributions to the field of neuropsychology. He is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he is also Director of the Division of Medical Psychology. Dr. Haywood’s research focuses on the intersection of psychology, neurology, and health disparities. He has conducted numerous studies on the effect of race and ethnicity on cognitive function, healthcare utilization, and patient outcomes.
Dr. Reginald Alston
Dr. Reginald Alston is a black clinical psychologist who has dedicated his career to advancing the mental health needs of people of color. He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland, where he teaches and conducts research on topics related to cultural diversity, psychotherapy, and mental health disparities. Dr. Alston is also the Founder and Director of the Center for African American Health, a community-based organization that provides mental health services and resources to the Black community in Maryland.
Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett
Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett is a renowned clinical psychologist and author who has made significant contributions to the field of mental health. She is the Director of the Program for Research on Anxiety Disorders among African Americans (PRADAA) and a Professor of Psychology at Kent State University. Her research focuses on the cultural and contextual factors that influence mental health outcomes, particularly for people of color. Dr. Neal-Barnett has published numerous articles and books on the subject, including “Soar: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook for Overcoming Anxiety at Home and on the Go.”
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is a black psychologist and educator who has dedicated her career to promoting racial justice and equity in education. She is the President Emerita of Spelman College, where she served as President from 2002-2015. Dr. Tatum is also the author of several books, including “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race,” which has become a seminal text on racial identity development.
Dr. Monnica Williams
Dr. Monnica Williams is an African American clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on the impact of racism and discrimination on mental health outcomes. She is also the Director of the Laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities, where she conducts research on the mental health needs of underrepresented populations. Dr. Williams is a leading expert on the psychological effects of racism and has published numerous articles and books on the subject.
Herman George Canady
Herman George Canady was an exceptional Black clinical and social psychologist, who made significant contributions to the field. His pioneering work in exploring the potential for bias in IQ testing based on the race of the examiner was revolutionary at the time. In addition, he conducted extensive research on the impact of racism on mental health, shedding light on the damaging effects of discrimination and prejudice. Canady was a trailblazer in his field, paving the way for future generations of psychologists and social scientists. His work continues to inspire and inform current research on race, bias, and mental health.
SBN & NAN in Celebrating Black History Month
This year, the Society for Black Neuropsychology (SBN) and the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) have joined forces to recognize the contributions of notable black figures who have played a significant role in advancing the field of neuropsychology and health services. The recognition is aimed at honoring the legacy of these figures and paying tribute to their efforts in paving the way for people of color to participate in training and health services for black communities.
Specifically, this year, the SBN and NAN have recognized Olivia Juliette Hooker (February 12, 1915 – November 21, 2018) and Robert L. Williams, II (February 20, 1930 – August 12, 2020) for their exceptional contributions in promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the field of neuropsychology and health services. Their work has helped shed light on the unique challenges faced by underrepresented populations and has inspired a new generation of professionals to work towards greater equity in healthcare.
Dr. Olivia Juliette Hooker
Dr. Hooker was only six years old and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when the Tulsa Race Riot erupted on May 31, 1921. During the event, her family’s home was stormed, and 35 city blocks of the successful Black community were destroyed, leaving 9,000 people homeless and resulting in at least 100 casualties. Dr. Hooker played a crucial role in ensuring that the impact of that violence was not forgotten through her work with the Tulsa Race Riot Commission.
Dr. Hooker completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at Ohio State University. In 1945, she became the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, using her GI benefits to complete a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, the following year. She earned her Ph.D. in 1961 from the University of Rochester, where she was the only woman and only African American in her class. For 22 years, she worked as a psychology professor at Fordham University, mentoring many students and faculty. She also served as an early director of the Kennedy Child Study Center in New York City.
Early in her career, while working at the mental hygiene department of a women’s correctional facility in Albion, New York, Dr. Hooker re-evaluated many women after realizing they were misdiagnosed with learning disabilities and being treated as less capable than they truly were. With her support, they pursued better education and job opportunities. She also helped establish the American Psychological Association’s Division 33: Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Throughout her career, Dr. Hooker approached others with an open mind, believing that everyone had something to offer and should not be judged by their credentials, stating,
“Don’t judge a person by the letters behind their name because there are very often cases in which you can learn something from the person that’s scrubbing the doorstep.”
Dr. Robert L. Williams, II
Dr. Williams was born in Biscoe, Arkansas and attended high school in Little Rock. After a high school aptitude test pointed him toward a career in manual labor rather than college, he lacked the confidence to pursue higher education. Nevertheless, he graduated from high school at age 16 and spent a year in community college before transferring to nearby Philander Smith College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1953. He then earned his master’s degree in education with a focus on psychology from Wayne State University in 1955. He became the first African American staff psychologist at Arkansas State Hospital. In 1961, he received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Washington University.
Dr. Williams’ distinguished career included appointments as assistant chief psychologist at the Jefferson Barracks VA Hospital, director of a hospital improvement project in Spokane, WA, and consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health. He was a founding member of the Association of Black Psychologists and served as the organization’s president from 1969-1970. After returning to Washington University in 1970, he co-founded the university’s Black Studies program.
Honoring Their Work Every Day
Although Black History Month helps bring Black historical figures into a brighter spotlight, we continue to honor and celebrate these individuals throughout the year. Their work has not only advanced the field but also helped to address the unique challenges faced by underrepresented populations. We must continue to support and uplift their efforts as we work towards building a more equitable and inclusive future for all.