From 1971 to 1983 the Hogg Foundation produced The Human Condition, a series of weekly radio broadcasts hosted by Bert Kruger Smith. The series featured conversations spanning the full range of human interest involving mental health. Guests included historically notable figures such as Efua Sutherland, the famous Ghanaian playwright, director, researcher, and children’s rights advocate; Roy Wilkins, civil rights icon and long-time leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and Sarah Weddington, best known for her role as the successful litigator in the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, that led to the legalization of abortion.
Bert Kruger Smith (1915-2004) was a Hogg Foundation program officer who oversaw education in mental health through mass media from 1952-1983. She was a prolific writer, and during the course of her more than four decades with the foundation wrote seven books, dozens of articles, and more than 100 pamphlets on a wide range of issues including aging, alcoholism, institutionalized living, the role of women, parenting, poverty, and disability rights.
Kruger Smith had a special interest in the mental health of children. Her first book, No Language but a Cry, was published in 1964 and her second, Your Non-learning Child: His World of Upside-Down, in 1968. By 1973, after years of researching, writing, and speaking about children, she turned her attention to the opposite end of the life spectrum with her book Aging in America. She later wrote three more books on the topic of aging.
The Human Condition broadcasts spotlighted many of the same issues Kruger Smith wrote about. Her conversations explored how aging, racial and gender discrimination, social relationships and community-building impact our well-being. The broad scope of programming also demonstrated the ways in which mental health is influenced and shaped by community conditions. Today the foundation is even more aware that the places where people live, learn, work, play, and pray have a significant impact on mental health.
Racial Discrimination and Mental Health Among Black Children
Dr. Kenneth Clark (1914-2005) was a renowned African American psychologist who, in tandem with his wife, Mamie Phipps Clark (1917-1983), conducted trailblazing research on the effects of discrimination on children’s attitudes about race. The Clarks’ work played an influential role in the legal struggles against de jure segregation in the 1950’s.
The Clarks testified as expert witnesses in Briggs v. Elliott, one of the cases rolled into the historic Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954. It was their research on the effects of racism on school aged children that led to Chief Justice Earl Warren’s famous dictum, “To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”
The Gray Panthers
Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995) was an American activist who founded the Gray Panthers movement in 1970. The Gray Panthers advocated for nursing home reform and took a stand against ageism, and Kuhn established a reputation as a fighter for progressive causes. “Old people ought to be the futurists. We look at the future out of our past, and lovingly regard the future with the hope that the future may avoid some of the pitfalls that we’ve fallen into,” said Kuhn in this 1979 interview for The Human Condition.
Into the Fold: Issues in Mental Health
Launched in June 2014, Into the Fold is a monthly podcast hosted and produced by the Hogg Foundation’s communications manager, Ike Evans. Consistent with the foundation’s mission, the podcast captures the human implications of mental health-related issues, through conversations with mental health advocates, researchers, practitioners, consumers, public officials , and others who carry the torch on behalf of mental health and wellness in Texas and beyond. Ike advances the work of Bert Kruger Smith and The Human Condition by addressing contemporary challenges, progress made, and ongoing struggles in the world of mental health.
Part of our educational mission is to document, archive, and share the foundation’s history, which has become an important part of the history of mental and public health in Texas, and the evolution of national and global mental health discourse. Archival information about the foundation is available at The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin, including, but not limited to, the Ima Hogg Photographsand the Robert Sutherland Papers. We also have a robust collection at the foundation office. Research questions and appointments can be made by contacting our archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.