What the Children Told Us

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For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Hidden Figures, What the Children Told Us tells the story of an iconic partnership that set the stage for decades of civil rights activism

As a young Black couple in the 1940s, Kenneth Clark and Mamie Phipps knew the devastating impact of segregation firsthand. But the Clarks revealed the true impact of segregation in a psychological study that would resonate for decades to come, in which they asked Black children which kinds of baby dolls they preferred: brown or white. Two-thirds of the children surveyed chose the white doll, and some even denied their own skin color.

This is the story of the towering intellectual and emotional partnership between two Black scholars who highlighted the undeniable psychological effects of racial segregation. Paving the way for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case and engaging in unrelenting activism over several decades, the Clarks' story is one of courage, love, and an unfailing belief that Black children deserved better than what society was prepared to give them.