Galen Hope Black History Month

Black History Month: Celebrating Black Pioneers in Psychology

Black History Month is a time to examine the under-told and under-examined history of Black people in the United States and beyond.

Because we are certain of the lack of representation in behavioral health and eating disorder treatment and research, Galen Hope invites you to celebrate Black History Month by getting familiar with some of the incredible researchers, scholars, and clinicians who shaped our field.

Francis Cecil Sumner, Ph.D.

Francis Cecil Sumner (December 7, 1895 – January 11, 1954) was an American psychologist and educator, widely recognized as the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in psychology.

The American Psychological Association says:

Sumner was born in Arkansas in 1895. As a teenager without a high school education, he was able to pass an entrance exam to Lincoln University and graduate magna cum laude with honors. He later enrolled at Clark University to pursue a bachelor of arts in English in 1916.

After graduation, he returned to Lincoln as a graduate student and was mentored by Stanley Hall. Although he was approved as a Ph.D. candidate, he could not begin his doctoral dissertation because he was drafted into the army during World War I. Sumner returned to Clark, where he completed his dissertation.

After earning his Ph.D., Sumner began a long and illustrious career in education. He taught at a number of institutions, including Wilberforce University,  Southern University in Louisiana, West Virginia Collegiate Institute, and Howard University, where he eventually became the founding chair of the psychology department.

Throughout his career, Sumner made numerous contributions to the field of psychology, though he struggled to get published because of his race. The APA explains that he found success “despite the refusal of research agencies to provide funding for him because of his color.”

Sumner was particularly a pioneer in the field of race psychology He helped lay the framework for future research on the topic, contradicting many psychologists’ ideas on race. Sumner’s study included a wide range of themes, including the variations in mental health between white and Black people, and African-American perspectives of the judicial system.

Sumner passed away in 1954 at the age of 58, but his legacy lived on. Today, he is remembered as a pioneer in the field of psychology and as a trailblazer for African Americans in higher education.

Beverly Greene, Ph.D.

Dr. Beverly Greene is a ground-breaking voice in the field of intersectional psychology. According to Mental Health America, “her work on heterosexism, sexism, and racism has illuminated how different intersecting facets of a person’s identity shape their experiences of privilege, oppression, and mental health. Dr. Greene’s work earned her the honor of the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 2008”

Greene was born in East Orange, NJ in 1950. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at New York University in 1973, and her Masters (1977) and Doctorate (1983) in clinical psychology at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University, being one of the only five students of color when she graduated in 1983.

The American Psychological Association says that Dr. Greene’s “work raises the visibility of many populations that have been overlooked and marginalized in the broader society as well as within psychology and offers new models for theoretical, empirical, and practical approaches.”

Dr. Greene  is the author of a landmark article “When the Therapist is White and the Patient is Black: Considerations for Psychotherapy in the Feminist Heterosexual and Lesbian Communities.”

This article,

Discusses feminist psychotherapy in cases in which the therapist is White and the client is Black, focusing on how White therapists may be influenced by racial differences and the form these issues may take in therapy. The racial and cultural context within which therapy occurs and its influence on the perceptions therapists hold of their patients are addressed.

The questions that she poses in this article are profoundly relevant, and a consistent part of our work at Galen Hope. We intend to explore the questions of racial representation in an upcoming blog as a part of our “Treatment Trauma” series.


Built on the principles of assertive community treatment, Galen Hope is an eating disorder and mental health treatment center offering individualized treatment options that include Intensive Outpatient (IOP), supported housing, and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). As a “Community of Integrated Wellness,” we pride ourselves in fostering a thoughtful and meaningful care experience that can guide our clients on their road to recovery and increased quality of life, regardless of diagnosis. Galen Hope currently offers separate, age-specific programming for adolescents ages 12-17 and adults 18 and up, of all genders.

To learn more, or to join our community for integrated wellness, please contact us today. 

Belong. Heal. Grow.

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