Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser and Brown V The Board Of Education

Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser and Brown V The Board Of Education
Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser
Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser 1897? – 1934

Who Was She?
Inez was born in Yoakum, TX in 1897. Her parents, Samuel and Veola had ten other children. He worked as an elevator operator, and Veola stayed home with the children…you couldn’t pay me enough to stay home with eleven children.
Samuel and Veola decided that education was one of the most important things they could give their children, but there were not many schools and certainly not many good ones for educating black children in Texas.
Samuel and Veola moved their family multiple times until they finally found a place they thought gave their children the best chance at getting a solid education.
They also started a college fund.
Having eleven children meant that they could only save enough money to send one of their children off to higher education. They picked their eldest son, Leon.
At the time, their second born child and daughter, Inez, was at the top of her class and longing for more learning.
Leon suggested that they spend the college money on his little sister.
After Inez graduated valedictorian from Yoakum Colored High school, she went off to  Prarie View Normal College – now Prarie View A&M University. She graduated Valedictorian Prarie View in 1912.
What Did She Do?
Inez Prosser returned to Texas with a teaching degree and taught in the segregated schools there. She moved from elementary to high school and worked with children of all ages across the state. Through it all, she taught English, and coached sports teams.
Inez pursued as much outside education as she could and saved money to help her siblings achieve their educational dreams.
All ten of her siblings graduated from high school, and she helped put six of them through college.
Inez believed that education was the key to opening up people’s lives, and she never stopped pursuing her own dreams no matter how difficult.
The biggest obstacle Inez faced was the state of Texas. Because of the segregated schools, she was unable to attend a program that offered masters degrees. She had to leave the state for that.
She earned a masters degree in educational psychology from the University of Colorado.
In 1927, after attaining her degree, Prosser returned to Texas and took a job at Tillotson College.
Inez was at Tillotson for three years where she worked hard to improve the psychological and education conditions for the students at her college. After three years, she was transferred to Tougaloo College in Mississippi in 1930.
In 1931, Prosser entered the University of Cincinnati and earned a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1933.
She is the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology in America.
Inez Prosser’s Legacy
Prosser’s dissertation was one of the most important documents that had ever been produced about the deleterious psychological and educational effects racism had on African American children.
In her lifetime, she advocated for segregated schools because integrated schools caused African American children extreme stress. They were offered violence, and abuse and nobody in their educational environment was concerned about whether or not they were emotionally or physically safe.
She also wrote that some black students would excel in integrated schools.
She also pointed out that segregated schools did not offer the level of educational excellence needed in order to really improve the lives of all African American students, and that these schools marred by the racist policies of the educational system had harmful psychological effects on African American students.
She also wrote that some black students would be better in segregated schools.
She looked at this question from many different sides.
In her lifetime, and beyond, people used her work selectively to argue for and against integration.
In 1954, Brown V the Board of Education came before the Supreme Court.
Inez Beverly Prosser’s work was presented as a critical part of the argument that integrating schools and offering supports for African American students was important to provide all American children access to good education.
Thank you, Inez Beverly Prosser, for helping us see how racism and poverty change the way our brains work.
We still have so much to learn.
Celebrate Black History Month!

Day 1 – The ABC’s of Black History Month