Scholar, author and psychiatrist Dr. Frances Cress Welsing passed away after suffering a stroke this past weekend, coming as quite the shock to her many supporters. Dr. Welsing became a nationally known figure for her controversial 1991 book, The Isis Papers, which expanded upon an essay she wrote in the ’70’s while working at Howard University.
Welsing was born March 18, 1935 to Dr. Henry Cress, a medical doctor, and Ida Griffen, a schoolteacher, in Chicago, Ill. She attended Antioch College and graduated with her bachelor’s in 1957 and earned her doctorate at Howard University in 1962.
After working in the Washington, D.C. area as a psychiatrist, Welsing joined Howard’s faculty as an assistant professor of pediatrics. It was during this tenure when she published her essay, “The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy),” which left some divided over her theories surrounding white supremacy and an insidious scheme to hold Black people as inferior.
According to Welsing’s account, Howard decided to not renew her position with the school after the publishing of the paper. She then began working with Department of Human Services and worked over two decades as a psychiatrist, mostly with children and was acclaimed for her work.
Despite the accolades given online by figures such as Public Enemy’s Chuck D and others, Welsing’s views were seen as homophobic and even misogynist by some measures. The Isis Papers expanded on several of Welsing’s ideas around whites feeling threatened by the scope and reach of Black people around the globe, even down to the size of genitalia.