SAPIENS is happy to present this bonus episode from Lost Women of Science about another path-breaking thinker.
In the 1960s, a Black home economist at Howard University recruited kids for an experimental preschool program. All were Black and lived in poor neighborhoods around campus.
Flemmie Kittrell had grown up poor herself, just two generations removed from slavery, and she’d seen firsthand the effects of poverty. While Flemmie earned a PhD from Cornell, most of her siblings didn’t make it to college. One of her sisters died at just 22 years old of malnutrition. And it was the combination of these experiences that drove Flemmie to apply her academic training to help improve the lives of people in her community.
In the early 1960s, Flemmie decided to see what would happen if you gave poor kids a boost early in life, in the form of a really great preschool. Every day for two years, parents would get free childcare, and their kids would get comprehensive care for body and mind—with plenty of nutritious food, fun activities, and hugs. What kind of difference would that make? And would it matter later on?