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The struggles, social conditions of Black Americans, professional experiences, and the barriers faced by black psychiatrists provided the thrust for our creation.

Since the graduation of Solomon Carter Fuller from Boston University School of Medicine in 1897, and for the next eight decades, black psychiatrists have persistently struggled to impact and effect change in American psychiatry. In the 1960s, it became increasingly evident that the traditional government and professional organizations were not responsive to the ever-evolving priorities of the African American community and their mental health needs.

Created in 1969, the founders of the BPA understood the importance of moving progressively to ensure the emotional and psychological development of African Americans, affording them the tools to cope and succeed in the face of persistent racism.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in response to the demands of the BPA, established the NIMH Center for Minority Group Mental Health Programs. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the major psychiatric professional organization, was tenaciously challenged by the BPA for its apathy and neglect of psychiatric and social ills confronting African Americans.

​The direction of the BPA is dictated by the growth of our organization and the present dilemmas facing African Americans. The initial and continuing philosophy is to effect change in American psychiatry for the betterment of African Americans and the country as a whole.


Former BPA Presidents

1969 Chester Pierce, MD

1971 J. Alfred Cannon, MD

1973 James Comer, MD

1975 Charles Wilkerson, MD

1976 Phillis Harrison-Ross, MD

1978 Carl Drake Jr., MD

1978 Billy E. Jones, MD

1980 Andrea Delgado, MD

1982 Ezra Griffith, MD

1984 Richard Fields, MD

1989 Thelissa Harris, MD

1991 Isaac Slaughter, MD

1994 William Lawson, MD

1996 Ramona Davis, MD

1998 Altha Steward, MD

2000 Shirley Marks, MD

2002 Gloria Pitts, MD

2004 Patrice Harris, MD

2005 Cassandra Newkirk, MD

2009 Napoleon B. Higgins, Jr. MD

2011 Patricia Newton, MD

2013 Sandra Maass-Robinson, MD

2015 Michael Ingram, MD

2017 Samuel Okpaku, MD

2019 Benjamin Roy, MD


The mission of The Black Psychiatrists of America is to address issues affecting the mental health of African people worldwide with special emphasis on Persons of African descent in the Americas and to provide a forum for continuing education for those who provide psychiatric care to these underserved population groups.


The Black Psychiatrists of America seeks to serve as an influence towards the maintenance of high professional, ethical, and administrative standards in the field of psychiatry through the following objectives:

To Improve the treatment, care, and rehabilitation of persons affected with mental disorders, developmental and emotional disabilities.

To Develop and implement programs that work to eliminate racial, ethnic, religious, and gender bias and discrimination.

To Establish and support standards in psychiatric practice, service, and facilities.

To Promote research and professional education in those areas of psychiatry.

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