INDIVIDUAL | Inducted 1993 [Posthumous]
Born April 11, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr. E. Kitch Childs was believed to be the last surviving member of her family, which included Kenny Clark, a well-known jazz percussionist. She lost two brothers to racial violence. She was a prominent clinical psychologist and advocate of gay and lesbian human rights legislation since 1973 as a feminist, lesbian activist, and founding member of the Association for Women in Psychology. She worked to revise the American Psychological Association’s attitude toward homosexuality.
Childs attended the University of Pittsburgh, and she was graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She was so brilliant academically that she accomplished this during her early teen years. Thereafter, she enlisted and served in the United States Navy.
Childs received her Master of Science in Human Development from the University of Chicago. In 1972, she was one of the first African-American women to earn a doctorate from the University of Chicago, also in human development. Childs was a founding member of the Association for Women in Psychology in 1969. She was also a founding member of the University of Chicago’s Gay Liberation, and was one of the architects of the gay and lesbian rights ordinance which was introduced before the Chicago City Council in 1973.
Childs practiced clinical psychology in Oakland, California from 1973 to 1990. She was a distinguished feminist and an articulate lesbian of color. She was acutely aware of issues affecting minority women, and through her practice, she worked for those who needed her most: battered women, survivors of sexual abuse, people with HIV/AIDS, prostitutes, and others who have been disenfranchised by our culture. She never turned away a person simply because he/she had no money; instead, Childs herself lived modestly so that she could always accommodate her community.
As an activist, Childs walked the long hallway between the feminist movement and the needs of minority women. Her network of friends and professional colleagues, both within and outside of what she called the “community of color,” extended beyond Chicago and Oakland to Paris and Amsterdam, where she continued her work in the 1990s. Her last publication was a chapter in Springer Publishing’s Feminist Ethics in Psychotherapy, entitled “Therapy, Feminist Ethics, and the Community of Color with Particular Emphasis on the Treatment of Black Women” .
Childs loved music and it was always a part of her life. She grew up singing and was encouraged in her efforts by her loving “godmother,” Juanita Hall. As a young woman, Childs joined the chorus of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, and she toured Europe with them. Childs last sang publicly at a memorial for Audre Lorde.
E. Kitch Childs died of natural causes on January 10, 1993 in Amsterdam, where she had been living since 1991. She was 55 years of age.