Daily 49er

A time to recognize the “father of black psychology”

With Dr. Joseph L. White’s death, his contributions to CSULB should be commemorated.

Dr. Joseph L. White speaks at the Educational Oppurtunity Program's 50th anniversary celebration at Cal State Long Beach on Nov. 4, 2016. (YouTube)

Dr. Joseph L. White speaks at the Educational Oppurtunity Program's 50th anniversary celebration at Cal State Long Beach on Nov. 4, 2016. (YouTube)

Dr. Joseph L. White speaks at the Educational Oppurtunity Program's 50th anniversary celebration at Cal State Long Beach on Nov. 4, 2016. (YouTube)


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With the passing of Dr. Joseph L. White on Nov. 22, 2017, Cal State Long Beach should establish a landmark to memorialize his legacy on campus.

As the founder of the Educational Opportunity Program on campus in 1967, he created a model replicated throughout California and the United States that has allowed several generations of low-income minority students to enter and graduate from public and private colleges and universities.

He changed my life after he personally recruited me to enter the university in Jan. 1968 through the EOP program.

Prior to 1967, the university was a growing campus with an almost all-white enrollment of about 10,000 students and a minority population of less than 100 Black and Mexican American students. Along with former Dean of Students George Demos, Dr. White secured the institutional approval to create the program, and he was given the authority to grant special admission and financial aid to promising Black and Chicano students as a pilot program.

With the success of EOP, in 1969, Cal State University Chancellor Glenn Dumke charged Dr. White with the task to develop similar programs at various CSU campuses. In the aftermath of the 1968 student strikes known as the East Los Angeles Walkouts, these programs, facilitated by Dr. White throughout the university system, opened the doors of opportunity for hundreds of Black, Chicano, Asian American and American Indian students.

Without this educational assistance program and the subsequent boom of minority students, the university would not have established our ethnic studies departments in the fall of 1969, following the national movement to establish fields of study that would teach about the history, culture and contributions of major ethnic groups in the U.S.

Today, our university is a majority-minority institution, with a national reputation for its diversity and academic accomplishments as one of the top minority-graduating universities in the U.S.

Consequently, I propose that our university name a building in loving memory of Dr. White to recognize his impact on campus and his 55-year academic career of national and international prominence.

As in the case of several campus facilities named in recognition of former university presidents — Peterson, McIntosh, Horn and Maxon — I respectfully propose that the university commemorate Dr. White’s legacy by naming the University Library, the Psychology building or one of the Liberal Arts buildings in his memory.

This is possible under Cal State’s Naming of Facilities and Properties policy (Policy No. 15501.00) under Section 403, which states that when naming honors one’s service, “It should honor a person who has achieved unique distinction in higher education and other significant areas of public service; or who has served the CSU in an academic capacity and has earned a national or international reputation as a scholar, or has made extraordinary contributions to a CSU campus or the system which warrant special recognition….”

While the Board of Trustees delegates to the Chancellor the authority to name all Cal State facilities, the Chancellor has “sub-delegated this authority to the (CSU) presidents via Executive Order 713.” I trust that President Jane Close Conoley will seize this opportunity to mark her own legacy at the Beach by exercising her authority to name a building in recognition of Dr. White’s memory.

Since 1970, Dr. White has been known as the “father of black psychology.” He pioneered and professed the idea of a psychological field now widely accepted through his research: the unique treatment and understanding of ethnic minorities in psychology, which he popularized through his research, publications and lectures until his demise. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a long-time family friend and colleague, expressed that Dr. White was a renowned scholar and will be remembered for his pioneering work in clinical psychology. But like all great professors, his most enduring contribution is that he touched so many lives as a mentor and a teacher.”

Rest in peace brother Joe, and know that we will always remember your mantra and inspiration to fight for justice and equality: ”Keep the faith!”

Professor Armando Vazquez-Ramos is a co-founder of the CSULB Chicano and Latino Studies department and serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the Ethnic Studies Program between Long Beach State and the Long Beach, El Rancho and Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School Districts.

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