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Under the Strain of ColorHarlem's Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry$
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Gabriel N. Mendes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453502

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453502.001.0001

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“A Deeper Science”

(p.1) Introduction
Under the Strain of Color

Gabriel N. Mendes

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter recounts how Richard Wright and Dr. Fredric Wertham met black convicted murderer, Clinton Brewer, and discusses how Wright and Wertham succeeded in asking the New Jersey governor to remove Brewer’s death sentence. Upon reading Richard Wright’s Native Son— a novel that told the story of murderer Bigger Thomas—Brewer wrote to Wright and asked for his help to be paroled. Wright then requested Wertham to determine whether Brewer was psychotic, which was later confirmed upon examination. Presenting Brewer’s condition, Wright and Wertham succeeded in requesting the New Jersey governor to spare Brewer from death penalty. This book tells the story of how Richard Wright and Fredric Wertham established a progressive model of mental health care as an integral part of the struggle for racial equality.

Keywords:   Richard Wright, Dr. Fredric Wertham, death sentence, Native Son, mental health care, racial equality

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