Over the past 40 years, researchers have made numerous attempts to document and expand upon the literature surrounding the development of African/Black psychology. Yet little is known about the contextual factors that might have influenced individual decisions to become involved in the movement. This study examined the early life experience of 13 Black psychologists whose autobiographies were published in Robert Williams (2008) book, History of the Association of Black Psychologists: Profiles of Outstanding Black Psychologists. Data for this study were analyzed utilizing a qualitative research approach. Themes that arose from the analysis included: (a) direct exposure/awareness of oppressive social, political, and environmental practices; (b) supportive role of family in providing a sense of direction, structure, and safety; (c) early childhood education emphasis; and (d) collective work and responsibility. Findings from this study expand on communal ways of coping with aversive life experiences such as racism.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; African Americans

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Rowe, Daryl M.;