Martin Luther King Jr.’s “The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement”

  • Martin Luther King Jr. and the role of psychologists in civil rights
In many ways, Dr. King’s address to the American Psychological Association still resonates with psychologists today as it did in 1967. In his speech, posthumously published in the Journal of Social Issues, King takes a look at the work of social scientists and their participation in shaping the minds of our country’s citizens.

Psychologists are responsible for providing us with the tools to build clear, logical minds. At the same time, King criticizes those who are too quick to label differently thinking minds as “maladjusted,” stressing the importance of new ideas and points of view.

“There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will.”

He challenges us to think outside the box and to look at things from a new perspective. In a way, the patterns of thought that changed during the civil rights movement are still applicable today. As psychologists, our work is to uphold the structured, proven realm of our science, while still creating an atmosphere of creativity and innovation.

Our mission as psychologists is a multifaceted one, but one with an overarching goal: To support those who fight for what is right and those who fight to protect us.

This week, we remember and thank those who fought for freedom yesterday and those who continue to fight for tomorrow’s freedom.

“Social scientists, in the main, are fortunate to be able to extirpate evil, not to invent it.”

To download a complete version of the speech, please click here.


About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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