University News

Parham to Discuss Racial Identity

February 21, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Thomas A. Parham, assistant vice chancellor for Counseling and Health Services and director of the Counseling Center at the University of California, Irvine, will present "The Struggle for Identity Congruence in African Americans" at 11 a.m. Monday, March 5 in the University Union Heritage Room on the Western Illinois University-Macomb campus.

Characterized as "a gifted and charismatic speaker in the tradition of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X," Parham will combine eloquence with scholarship in his discussions of this subject, according to Janice Welsch, English professor emeritus and co-coordinator of Western's Expanding Cultural Diversity Project. The lecture is open free to the public. A discussion will immediately follow Parham's presentation.

"Dr. Parham has spent his career exploring black identity development and is in a unique position to help all of us deepen our understanding of African Americans, whatever our race/ethnicity," Welsch said. "In a diverse society such as ours, understanding each other is critical if we are to work together effectively. Dr. Parham's presentation is one in a series we hope to sponsor in the next year."

Parham has made racial identity development the primary focus of his research and the subject of many of his publications, including "The Psychology of Blacks: An African-Centered Perspective," "Psychological Storms: The African American Struggle for Identity" and "Counseling Persons of African Descent." His work has been crucial in advancing the scholarship on the psychology of African Americans while also addressing pragmatic aspects of counseling.

Parham has been honored with multiple prestigious awards from the American Psychological Association and from the Association of Black Psychologists. In addition to the books he has authored, he has written numerous journal articles and book chapters, and he has produced several videotapes on counseling African Americans and on youth and violence. Besides his focus on black psychology and counseling, he has addressed such issues as multicultural counseling, multicultural education, managing a diverse workforce, effective communication, coping with stress and team-building. In 2005 he participated in Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union which was broadcast on CSPAN.

He has chaired Irvine's Human Relations Committee and helped draft the city's first human rights ordinance. He helped charter the Orange County Chapter of 100 Black Men and has worked on numerous programs within the organization. As the organization's president, he collaborated with Turning Point Communications and the city of Irvine to host the annual African American Business Summit, planned a Health and Wellness Summit, initiated an "Institutional Report Card" to evaluate the quality of the educational experience for African American youth in Orange County schools and served on the Orange County Sheriff's Community Coalition.

Parham's visit is sponsored by WIU's Expanding Cultural Diversity Project. For more information, contact J.Q. Adams at 309/298-1183 or or Welsch at 309/298-2057 or

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