Notable BAME Psychologists

The profiles below are brief descriptions of notable BAME psychologists. The first 3 were written by Carla House (BSc Psychology, 2024). The remaining profiles are from the Hidden Histories – Black in Psychology resource, written by Parise Carmichael-Murphy and Adam Danquah and published by The University of Manchester.

Robert Guthrie

Born in 1932, Guthrie was interested in psychology when he first discovered it. Robert was worried that there would not be opportunities for him in psychology due to him being African American, but his African American professors inspired him. Guthrie was the first black student at his community college, and he went on to gain his PhD. The American Psychological Association described Guthrie as “one of the most influential and multifaceted African-American scholars of the century.” 

Key work

Guthrie’s most famous work would be his book “Even the rat was white”. This book looks at information that western psychology leaves out and shows the importance of what black psychologists have done not just for psychology but for the social sciences. Guthrie was also the first black psychologist to have his papers be included in the national archives of American psychology.

Thema Bryant

Born in 1974, Thema was evacuated from Liberia during the civil war and moved to Baltimore. Thema completed a doctorate in clinical psychology and focused on childhood trauma and coping strategies of African Americans. She is currently a professor of psychology at Pepperdine university where her research focuses on interpersonal trauma and the societal trauma of oppression. 

Key work

Thema is the 2023 president of the American Psychological Association . Thema was recognized previously by the APA with the Emerging leader of women in psychology award for her work on violence against women and she currently hosts the homecoming podcast where she discusses mental health, and she works with TEDx talks to do ted talks about psychology and racism. To find the TED talk that includes the quote below please follow this link:

Mamie and Kenneth Clark

Mamie was born in 1917 and Kenneth in 1914. They both attended Howard University in the US. Mamie said that the lack of black women psychology students in her class was a “silent challenge”. The couple eloped together and had two children. The Clarks were the first and second black people to earn a psychology doctorate at Columbia university, Mamie being the first woman too. Kenneth was the first African American to be president of the APA.  

Key work

The Clark’s most notable achievement was their doll study that helped overturn segregation. The doll study included black children playing with a white and a black doll and the Clark’s asked them questions such as “Give me the doll that you would like to play with or like best”. They found most black children would choose the white doll particularly if they were in segregated schools. This study was used in court to argue that segregation psychologically and emotionally damaged children attending segregated schools. To educate yourself further about the doll studies please follow this link:

References for images:


Thomas Adeoye Lambo (1923-2004)

Lambo was a Nigerian psychiatrist who studied medicine and trained in psychiatry in the UK. He returned to Nigeria in 1953 as the first African psychiatrist trained in Western psychiatry and worked as a specialist in a psychiatric hospital; this contributed to an understanding of cross-cultural psychiatry. Lambo is known for his work in ethno-psychiatryand community approach to psychiatric treatment. During the ’70s and ‘80s, he worked at the World Health Organization (WHO).

Biography Reference: Carmichael-Murphy, P. & Danquah, A. (2023) Hidden Histories, Black in Psychology. University of Manchester.

Robert Williams (1930 – 2020)

Williams was a professor of psychology and African and Afro-American studies, as well as a founding member of the ABPsi where he worked to improve recruitment and retention of Black graduate students in psychology across the US. He was critical of racial and cultural bias in IQ testing and developed the ‘Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity’ that better represented African American speech and experience. In 1973, Williams coined the term ‘ebonics’, a combination of ebony and phonics to intentionally give a name to the language of African Americans.

Biography Reference: Carmichael-Murphy, P. & Danquah, A. (2023) Hidden Histories, Black in Psychology. University of Manchester.