Previous | Next
1234567891011121316171819202122232425262728293031323334353637383940414243444546474849505152535455565758 of 763
that was the area that I wanted to really specialize in, except that I
couldn't afford it, in terms of being black, and being concerned with
problems of social and racial justice, I couldn't afford the luxury of
doing what I really wanted to do in psychology -- namely, know more
about the brain and the nervous system, and how they affected behavior.
So I studied, you know, as much of that as I needed to and
could. But when I got to Columbia, I knew -- I came to Columbia in order
to work with Otto Kleinberg and Gardner Murphy, who were to me the
outstanding social psychologists of their time, with Kleinberg being
the specialist in race relations or racial psychology.
But if I had had my druthers, if I were white, I think I
would have gone into neurophysiology totally.
Would this possibly have led to your returning to medicine, to
become perhaps a surgeon?
xx No. No, I was really interested in pure research in
neurophysiology. I've always been fascinated by the whole mystery of
the nervous system. From my pre-psychology days, you know, when I was
taking biology, if I had had a zoology professor who was not as limited
pedantically as the one I had, I might have gone into that branch.
But then I saw psychology as a beautiful bridge between the organism
and behavior. But again, you know, there are choices that you can't
make, if you are responsive and sensitive to certain forces. And the
forces which I'd apparently always been responsive to were the ones
that involved social justice, decency -- you know, why are people cruel
to each other? Indirectly, one could probably arrive at answers to
that question through the study of the nervous system. And in my
© 2006 Columbia University
Libraries | Oral History
Research Office | Rights and
Permissions | Help