Social Scientists for Social Justice

Making the Case against Segregation

291 pages

September, 2005

ISBN: 9780814742679



Also available in



Part of the Critical America series


John P. Jackson Jr. is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of Science for Segregation: Race, Law, and the Case against Brown v. Board of Education, also published by NYU Press.

All books by John P. Jackson Jr.

In one of the twentieth century's landmark Supreme Court cases, Brown v. Board of Education, social scientists such as Kenneth Clark helped to convince the Supreme Court Justices of the debilitating psychological effects of racism and segregation. John P. Jackson, Jr., examines the well-known studies used in support of Brown, such as Clark’s famous “doll tests,” as well as decades of research on race which lead up to the case. Jackson reveals the struggles of social scientists in their effort to impact American law and policy on race and poverty and demonstrates that without these scientists, who brought their talents to bear on the most pressing issues of the day, we wouldn’t enjoy the legal protections against discrimination we may now take for granted. For anyone interested in the history and legacy of Brown v. Board of Education, this is an essential book.


  • “A deeply researched, clearly written account of an important subject. Thorough and well organized. Gives the reader a clear understanding of what liberal social scientists were thinking in 1954. This contribution will be of interest to both historians and social scientists.”

    —Raymond Wolters, University of Delaware

  • “Relying substantially on archival sources, Jackson helps us to understand how science was involved in the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education case, and how the scientists themselves conceived of their role in the legal process. In addition, he provides a fascinating account of the relationship between Jewish organizations and the NAACP in their joint effort to oppose discriminatory policies.”

    —William Tucker, Rutgers University

  • “A provocative analysis of social scientists' role in the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education.“

    Law & History Review

  • “A wide reading of manuscript sources, court cases, and secondary works. . . . A very good book that is well worth the reading.”

    American Historical Review

  • “Jackson's excellent study. . . . places the fight against segregation within a much broader historical context. . . . It greatly illuminates the development of social science knowledge about the crucial topic of race in modern America.”

    History of Education Quarterly