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Origins of The Association of Black Psychologists National Chapter

Racial discrimination and violence towards Black Americans came to a head with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.  At the time, the field of psychology lacked racial and gender diversity, and the majority of psychological research pathologized and further marginalized Black people. At the August 1968 American Psychological Association (APA) annual convention in San Francisco a group of Black psychologists and Black psychology graduate students, interrupted the presidential address to demand that APA address racism and discrimination within psychology. The group presented a ten-point plan and demanded that APA take definitive action. From this protest grew the National Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), whose goal was and continues to be improving the state of Black mental health. This protest and the formation of the National ABPsi successfully created the independent field of Black Psychology.

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Origins of the Metro Detroit Association of Black Psychologists

The Metro Detroit Association of Black Psychologists also has a rich history, that corresponds with events that lead to the development of the national organization. Our chapter began with local Black psychologists who met informally to provide collegial support and to discuss current events related to Black mental health. During the week of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the group decided It is time to do something about the ongoing racial injustice. As a result, the Michigan Association of Black Psychologists was formed in April 1968. Founding members included Floyd Wiley, PhD, Reginald Wilson, PhD, Jane A. Robinson, PhD, Shirley Vaughn, MS, and Dozier Thornton, PhD. The group aimed to facilitate social change through Black perspectives and activism in psychology.

The Michigan Association of Black Psychologists flourished for many, many years. However, the group eventually became inactive. Fortunately, the Michigan Chapter was revived in 1996, with Dr. Annita Sanni as the newly established president. Shelia Williams-White, PhD served as president in 1997, and under her leadership the organization was renamed The Metro Detroit Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. The group had a second revival in 2009, which was spearheaded by Dr. Amorie Robinson.

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