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Honoring Black History Month

Stories | 02.01.21

Adler University celebrates the achievements of Black people in the U.S. and Canada, recognizing their abilities to navigate structures that were not built for their success. We also acknowledge the communities that shaped these highly accomplished people, created avenues for their achievements, and supported their success. We study Black history to fill gaps in our understanding of the history of our nations, which include the lives, contributions, and struggles of Black people. 

Recognizing Black history is not only a study of the past, but also of our present and future. History continues to be made, as we witnessed on January 20 when Kamala Harris became the first Black woman sworn in as Vice President of the United States.  

We encourage the Adler University community across campuses and the public to join us this Black History Month to learn, participate, and celebrate. 

Black History Month 

Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D. 

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Black History Month is an annual celebration, originating in the U.S., to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Black people.  

Distinguished Black historian Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D. was inspired to promote the study of Black history after participating in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation in Chicago in 1915. In February 1926, Dr. Woodson launched a week-long celebration of Black history. He dedicated his career to the study and sharing of African American life. Learn more from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 

Some U.S. communities began expanding the week into a month-long celebration in the 1940s. Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government in 1976 and by Canada in 1995. 

“If race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” – Dr. Carter G. Woodson. 


Join us for the many Black History Month events happening across Adler University.  


We recognize and are grateful for the manBlack psychologists, leaders, and advocates who shaped our fields of psychology, mental health, and social justice. Here are a few: 

  • Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D. and Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D.

    Drs. Kenneth B. and Mamie Phipps Clark

    Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D. (1914-2005) and Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D. (1917-1983) 
    The Clarks’ research and casework have been significant in the field of psychology and in the civil rights movement. They obtained master’s degrees from Harvard University and made history at Columbia University for being the first African Americans to receive doctoral degrees. In 1966, the American Psychology Association elected Dr. Kenneth Clark as its first African American president. An Adlerian psychologist, he published an article in which he used Adlerian theory to understand civil rights issues. The Clarks opened a child guidance center in Harlem, offered clinical services, and conducted experiments on racial biases in education. They were often called upon to testify as expert witnesses in desegregation cases, including Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. The Clarks had the opportunity to share their “doll test” experiment, which showed that Black children developed a lasting feeling of inferiority because of segregation. Their research helped persuade the Supreme Court justices to ban segregation in schools. Read more from the American Psychology Association and 

  • Rosemary Brown

    Rosemary Brown

    Rosemary Brown (1930-2003) 
    A politician, writer, educator, and social activist, Brown was dedicated to advancing human rights. She was a strong advocate for racial and gender equality. In 1956, she helped found the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People to increase access to housing and employment opportunities for Black people in British Columbia. She also fought for women’s rights in the province, and around the world. In 1972, Brown was elected to the Legislative Assembly of B.C., becoming the first Black woman elected to political office in Canada and is known for her work to advance human rights legislation in the provincial parliament. She received the National Black Coalition Award and a United Nation’s Human Rights Fellowship in 1973. Brown retired from public service in 1986, but continued her advocacy work, and served as the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1993-1996. Read more from the BC Black History Awareness Society and

  • Francis Cecil Sumner

    Francis Cecil Sumner, Ph.D. (1895 – 1954)
    Dr. Sumner, known as the “Father of Black Psychology,” was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Psychology and was influential in the fields of psychology and social justice. After being drafted to fight in World War I, he completed his doctoral degree at Clark University in Massachusetts in 1920. Dr. Sumner was interested in combatting Eurocentric methods of psychology and studied racial bias to increase understanding and help eliminate it, especially in the justice and education systems. He became a professor, teaching at several universities, and published several articles, even though many research agencies refused to provide him funding because he was Black. In 1928, he began teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he built a legacy of leading and training numerous Black psychologists. He was instrumental in establishing the psychology department in 1930, and served as the department chair until his death in 1954, sharing his profound knowledge with generations of future Black psychologists, including Kenneth B. Clark, Ph.D. Read more from “Francis Sumner: A Short Essay” by James A. Bayton and the American Psychological Association.

  • Marlene Green

    Marlene Green (1940 – 2002)
    Marlene Green was a social and political activist who immigrated from Dominica to Canada in the 1960’s. Green founded the Black Education Project in Toronto after noticing the high drop-out rates and lack of quality education for Black children. The Black Education Project created after-school programs and summer camps and advocated for Black students. It also became a hub for Black activism and organized protests against racism in schools, in policing and in the workplace. Green ran the Brotherhood Community Centre Project in the 1970’s; the organization was developed to further address the challenges facing the Black community. Green also became a school and community relations officer at the Toronto Board of Education where she co-wrote the first report on race relations in the education system. In the 1980’s and the 1990’s, Green supported anti-apartheid work in the Caribbean and Africa. Read more from the Akua Benjamin Project.

Read more about Black Pioneers in Mental Health from Mental Health America and read stories about Black Canadians from the BC Black History Awareness Society.

Learn and Support 

Community Events:


Organizations to follow and support:

  • Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression – Advocates for and defends the rights of oppressed people in Chicago 
  • Chicago Black Therapists Directory – Curated by Chicago mental health counselor Cicely Green 
  • Federation of Black Canadians – Works to advance the social, economic, political, and cultural interests of Black Canadians 
  • Black Health Alliance – Community-led organization that looks to improve the well-being of Black communities in Canada 
  • Long Walk Home – Chicago-based nonprofit that empowers young artists and activists to combat racism and gender violence against girls and women. 
  • 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc. – Offers mentoring and community development to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for Black men in the Greater Chicago area 
  • Color of Change – Designs campaigns to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back 
  • Black Futures Lab – Works with Black people to transform communities, build Black political power, and change the way that power operates
  • Hogan’s Alley Society – Advances the social, political, economic, and cultural well-being of people of African descent in Vancouver and British Columbia
  • Black Art Therapist Network – A growing international community of Black professionals and students in the art therapy field
  • Healthy Hood Chicago – Strives to close the 20-year life expectancy gap between under-served and higher-income communities in Chicago
  • The AAKOMA PROJECT – Works with BIPOC teenagers and families to reduce mental health stigma and provide research for optimal teen mental health
  • Black Artists’ Network Dialogue – Seeks to support and showcase the contributions of Black artists in Canada and internationally
  • Black-owned businesses in Chicago and Vancouver 


Other Sources: HISTORYLibrary of CongressBritannicaTIME MagazineBiographyLegal Defense and Education Fund, Government of Canada 

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