Abstract

In 1939, a psychologist could become a member of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SSPP) automatically with the endorsement of two members, payment of dues, and membership in the American Psychological Association (APA). Non-APA members with endorsements and payment of dues had to be voted in by the membership. In 1940, the rules for admission were changed to eliminate the automatic membership for APA members. Francis Cecil Sumner, the first African American PhD in psychology, qualified for SSPP membership as a member of the APA in 1939, but the SSPP’s council delayed his membership and introduced the amendment to its constitution that eliminated Sumner’s route to membership. This article examines the circumstances surrounding council’s actions and the role that Sumner’s application for membership played in it as an example of the role that race and discrimination played in the decision to change the route to SSPP membership for members of the APA.

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