Kenneth and Mamie Phipps-Clark's primary research on racial identification and preference in black school children, published from 1939 to 1950, was replicated and extended by the work of various social scientists in the 1940s and early 1950s. The Clarks' conclusion that segregated schools cause psychological damage to black children was a view shared by 90% of social scientists surveyed in a 1948 study by M. Deutscher and Isador Chein, titled "The Psychological Effects of Enforced Segregation: A Survey of Social Science Opinion." The study also revealed that 83% of social scientists surveyed believed that racial segregation also has detrimental psychological effects on members of the privileged group.
The same year as the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, Gordon Allport published The Nature of Prejudice. Allport observed that contact between groups is a necessary component to reducing prejudice. He proposed that when such contact results in a "true acquaintanceship," it is more likely to lessen bias and dispel prejudice. When the sustained contact is genuine and occurs among individuals who regard themselves as being of equal status, the prejudice is further reduced. Allport's view, known as the "contact hypothesis," became a principal argument in support of racial integration.
"To be maximally effective," Allport wrote, "contact and acquaintanceship programs should lead to a sense of equality in social status, should occur in ordinary purposeful pursuits, avoid artificiality, and if possible enjoy the sanction of the community in which they occur."
In an effort to provide empirical evidence to the NAACP about the psychological harm to black children of racial segregation, Kenneth Clark, Isador Chein, and Stuart Cook drafted the social science statement from an impressive list of 60 research references that became part of the NAACP legal brief presented to the Supreme Court. Thirty-two social scientists signed the document, agreeing in principle with the premise that legally imposed segregation is psychologically damaging to the personalities of young children.
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