The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) mourns the passing of one of its original founders and members, Dr. Joseph White. Dr. Joe, as he was affectionately known, passed away November 21, 2017, at the age of 84.
Known as the Father of Black Psychology, Dr. Joe received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University in 1961; and, in 1968 helped found the Association of Black Psychologists. That same year, he established the first Black Studies Program at San Francisco State University. In one of his many ground-breaking efforts, in 1963, Dr. Joe brought Malcolm X to lecture at Michigan State University.
Dr. Joe’s 1970 article “Toward a Black Psychology”, published in Ebony Magazine, was a seminal document in the formation of African-American Psychology as a professional field and the rise of ethnic and cultural psychology. The article argued that whatever the future of race relations and the destiny of black people, the creation of a Black Psychology was necessary, because the psychology created by white people could never adequately apply to African-Americans. Dr. White went further to point out that the application of mainstream white psychology to black people resulted in weakness-oriented deficit finding, rather than an accurate appraisal of the situation of people of African descent.
In 2006, he co-authored a book entitled Black Fathers, a collection of writings, which included a chapter by AALF’s creator, Gary Cunningham. In 2007, Dr. Joe was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Minnesota – the highest award given to individuals who are distinguished for their accomplishment in cultural affairs, public service or a field of knowledge and scholarship.
In 2008, Dr. Joe was asked by Gary Cunningham to lead the effort to establish the African American Leadership Forum in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Not only did he help to establish AALF in the Twin Cities, but also, Des Moines, Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma. Today, there are 6 AALF organizations, including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the time of his passing, Dr. Joe was Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine where he spent most of his career. His publications include: The Psychology of Blacks: An African-American Perspective with Thomas Anthony Parham, Prentice Hall, 1990; The Troubled Adolescent, Pergamon Press, 1989; Black Man Emerging: Facing the Past and Seizing a Future in America with James H. Cones, Routledge, 1999; The psychology of Blacks: an African-centered perspective, with Thomas Anthony Parham, Adisa Ajamu, Prentice Hall, 1999; Black Fathers: An Invisible Presence in America, with Michael E. Connor, Routledge, 2006; and, Building Multicultural Competency: Development, Training, and Practice, with Sheila Henderson, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
Dr. Joe continued working and helping others all the way until his passing. When asked why he continued to work so hard, he would often reply, “I’m still trying to shuck and jive my way into heaven!!! Dr. Joe, we’re sure you made it – you touched a lot of lives, and you’ll be sorely missed. We love you!!