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Mon, 09.27.1954

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Psychologist born

Beverly Daniel Tatum

*Beverly Daniel Tatum was born on this date in 1954. She is a Black psychologist, administrator, author, and educator.

Beverly Christine Daniel was born in Tallahassee, Florida. Her parents were Catherine Faith Maxwell and Robert A. Daniel. Tatum grew up in Bridgewater, Mass. Much of her family, including her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, attended the Tuskegee Institute and Howard University.

When Tatum graduated high school in 1971, she earned a B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University. She also received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology in 1976 and a Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Michigan. In 2000, she received an M.A. in religious studies from Hartford Seminary.

Tatum initially taught Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1980 to 1983. She was a professor of Psychology at Westfield State College (1983-1989) and a professor of Psychology for thirteen years at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. While there, she was appointed chair of the Psychology department, Dean of the College, Vice President for Student Affairs, and acting President.

In 2002, Tatum became the President of Spelman College. Her tenure included a 10-year campaign that increased the alumni donation rate to 41% and raised $157.8 million. Tatum has held lectures, workshops, and panels across the country. Tatum also worked as a practicing clinical psychologist from 1988 to 1998. Tatum was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2014. In Tatum's article Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: The Application of Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom, she describes her experiences teaching classes on race-related issues. She also applies the Racial Identity Development Theory to understand common student responses to such topics.

Tatum taught a "Psychology of Racism" course at three separate institutions. She describes how students often responded to such topics emotionally, expressing guilt, shame, and anger, all of which had the potential to prevent them from engaging with and appreciating the material. She maintains that students tended to resist the topic of race partly because it is considered taboo. Also, it clashes with meritocratic ideals that are prominent in America because white students often fail to recognize that race has meaningfully impacted each of their lives. Tatum explains this resistance further in William E. Cross, Jr.'s Racial Identity Development theory, which explores the psychological effects of coming to terms with one's racial group membership. Racial identity theories have been modeled for blacks and whites but vary markedly in their developmental stages.

As a professor, Tatum has observed many students go through these stages of racial identity development and provides quotes from journal entries in which the students react to the class discussions and material. In presenting these journal entries, Tatum argues that an imperfect model is a handy tool that enables students to frame their experiences meaningfully, thereby facilitating positive student development. Tatum touches on many of these issues in her book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" And Other Conversations About Race. In the book, she emphasizes the need for educators, parents, and the general public to educate themselves about such topics to hold meaningful conversations about race, specifically regarding education.

While at Spelman College, the scholarship support for students at the school doubled. Tatum also helped develop student intercultural competencies through infrastructural support for Global study-travel programs. In 2012, she launched a Wellness revolution to empower students to make healthy choices regarding exercise, diet, and sleep. In 2014, the American Psychological Association presented Tatum with the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, the highest honor presented by the APA.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum retired in July 2015 as President Emerita of Spelman College. She now focuses on work as an author, lecturer, and expert on racial identity development.

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