Inez Beverly Prosser (ca. 1895-1934) was arguably the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in psychology. Her dissertation, completed in 1933, examined personality differences in black children attending either voluntarily segregated or integrated schools and concluded that black children were better served in segregated schools. This research was one of several studies in the 1920s and 1930s that was part of the debate on segregated schools as maintained in the United States under the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). This article examines the life and career of Prosser in the context of educational barriers and opportunities for African Americans in the early part of the twentieth century and explores the arguments that pitted African Americans against one another in determining how best to educate black children, arguments that eventually led to the desegregation decision of Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychology (miscellaneous)