Background of Dr. Na’im Akbar
“Black people in America have a much greater inner power than they realize, but they must re-discover themselves in order to use it” (Na’im Akbar). World-renowned clinical psychologist, author, lecturer, and psychology professor, Dr. Na’im Akbar is a pioneer in the world of psychology. He was born Luther B Weens in Tallahassee, Florida on April 26th, 1944. To parents Bessie G. Weems and Luther B. Weems. He was raised in a middle-class family where both of his parents were college educated. This was a rare commodity, for in the 1940s segregation was a beast that oppressed black people economically and socially. From kindergarten through high school he attended Florida A&M University Laboratory school. An all-black school where he graduated high school in 1961. Respectively, he earned his Bachelors in psychology, then his Masters and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan (Simmonds, 2007).
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He has three children named Shaakira, Mutaqee, and Tareeq with his wonderful wife Renee V. Beach. Growing up in an all-black community Dr. Akbar did not experience racial tension from white people until his attendance at the University of Michigan for the very first time. This propelled him to join the Black Action Movement. He received his name Na’im Akbar meaning great light after joining the nation of Islam (Akbar, 2005). Where he started exploring the long and damaging psychological effects of slavery on the black mind. His work, accomplishments, and ideas give you a glimpse into the mind one of modern psychology’s great intellectuals.
Contributions of Dr. Na’im Akbar
In modern psychology, Dr. Akbar is a pioneer for his developments on the African- centered approach. To free the black mind, he relatively designed and introduced a new equation into the modern world of psychology. Freeing the black mind was to be accomplished by changing the consciousness of black people everywhere (Akbar, 2005). This was his main focus through his many written works and speeches. The minds of Africans and black people have been pierced with his ideas and features of progressive thought. His African centered approach to psychology along with other African centered philosophies in psychology from other well-accredited psychologist gave life to the Black Psychology Movement. For instance, Wade Nobles who published in 1986, his works in African psychology and Joseph Baldwin who published the African personality in America in 1992 (Simmonds, 2007). He teaches and lectures worldwide while expanding through tapes and books promoting his ideas on African centered perspective in psychology. Dr. Abkar books are used in many learning institutions aiding professors in discussions about the human condition, slavery and black psychology.
He explained that the continent of Africa is part of the human view of the historical primary in the perspective of African Psychology, in his papers in African Psychology (Thorton, 2009). Breaking the chains of mental slavery was the purpose of his book “Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery”. Understanding the one of a kind psychological function of black people while addressing rounded human psychology was discussed in his book, The Community of Self. While answering the question on the change amongst a boy and a man. He focused on restoring African manhood to men, but black men especially were focused in his work, Visions for Black Men. Dr. Akbar sought to return human psychology to its formal magnificence through his re-Africanization of psychology invention project by showing that it is an African invention through his book the Light from Ancient Africa (Akbar, 2005). Dr. Akbar work as a clinical psychologist was devoted to examination and practice in developing techniques in correcting the broken psychological state of black people. His ideas and therapies that he has refined throughout his professional career continue to be used and circulated in the world of psychology today.
Theoretical Perspectives of Dr. Na’im Akbar
The theoretical perspectives of Dr. Akbar were to advance black people all over the world. As a psychologist, Dr. Akbar goal was to let people see the continuous psychological process of human slavery, the destructive ethos had on the black mind. His theories and practices were geared toward black and African American and their communities (Akbar, 2005). He critiqued traditional psychology propelling to African centered psychology. He believes our consciousness, awareness and mental power is the ultimate power of human beings culturally. He viewed black people living in America made it very hard for them to harness the power of their minds due to psychological damage from systemic racism (Simmonds, 2007).
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Addressing the unique mental health needs by increasing the understanding of the foundation of black peoples mental functioning culturally from the hidden effects of slavery and the leftover consequences. Slowly brought under the control of their slave masters while becoming imprisoned, black people by losing their consciousness and awareness of themselves as the reason and result from the psychological development of slavery. While differentiating between the true nature and identity of the African mind (Thorton, 2009). He explained, explored and warned of the use of spliced ideas that have been replaced and used for the real thing. Compared to the unequal amount of black people in prison and going to college in America. It is a clear statement of centuries of cruelty, dehumanization, and embarrassment, black people had to bear. While continuing to undergo pain, humiliation, terror and confusion from slavery and modern-day racism (Akbar, 2005).
As the whole of humanity particularly black people, Dr. Na’im Akbar, Recognized for his countless accomplishments and numerous awards. Through his great light, He has shown the world the social problems affecting black people, through an analytical and insightful view. His ideas on freeing the psychological chains on the minds of black people will allow them to culturally find their true selves. While being able to evolve for themselves and their fellow man. He does this by being highly informational, highly rational. While also stirring the minds and souls of the audience. From being a small black boy from Tallahassee, Florida to a world renown psychologist he has contributed to the world of psychology by educating one mind at a time.
- Akbar, N. (2005). Nigrescence and identity: Some limitations. Counseling Psychologist, 17(2), 258. doi:10.1037/2023-066.57
- Simmonds, Y. J. (2007). Dr. Na’im Akbar. Los Angeles Sentinel, 57(1), 20-28.doi:10.1037/0003-066.57.1.20
- Thornton, S. A. (2009). African Americans moving into the 21st century: Accepting the responsibility for our own destiny. The Journal of Negro Education, 64(2), 104. doi:10.1037/0003-022.19.1.33
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