Reconsidering Conversations Between Ezra Griffith and Chester Pierce: Dr. Cynthia Turner Graham Interviews Dr. Ezra Griffith, Author of Race and Excellence My Dialogue with Chester Pierce
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Expires on Oct 24, 2023
Credit Offered
1.5 CME Credits
1.5 COP Credits

In 2017, the APA Human Rights Award was renamed to honor Chester M. Pierce, MD and, in 2021, the award was endowed by the APA Foundation with the generous support of his colleagues, friends and family. Dr. Pierce was a pioneering clinician, human rights advocate, and visionary with great ambitions for humankind. He was always focused on the possibilities for excellence. The term “microaggressions” grew out of his research experience and since the 1970s has been a part of the American lexicon. The average psychiatrist should know more about Dr. Pierce’s life and work. He was the founding president of the Black Psychiatrists of America (BPA), an organization whose formation and history are closely tied to that of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Protégé, former BPA President, and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and African American Studies at Yale, Dr. Ezra Griffith, penned a unique biography, Race and Excellence: My Dialogue with Chester Pierce in 1998. A pioneering psychiatrist himself, Dr. Griffith has given us a unique gift, the result of a series of conversations between himself and Dr. Pierce. Here is a brief comment on the text: In Race and Excellence, Ezra Griffith, also an African American professor of psychiatry, engages Pierce in a dialogue with the goal of clarifying the inter-connection between the personal and the professional in the lives of both black scholars. The text melds the story of Pierce's life and his achievements, with particular attention to his theories about the predictable nature of racist behavior and the responses of oppressed groups. Having earned his doctorate a generation after Pierce, Griffith approaches his conversation with Pierce as a face-to-face meeting between mentor and student. Retelling Pierce's life story ultimately becomes for Griffith an exercise in conceptualizing his own experience. As he writes, “I never just wanted to tell Chet's story; I wanted to work his story out, to measure it, to try it on, to figure out which parts are good for me and other blacks so earnestly seeking heroes.” Dr. Cynthia Turner Graham, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the APA and current president of the BPA, interviews Dr. Griffith in this session. Together they will explore and elaborate on poignant aspects of Dr. Pierce’s life and work. The timing of this dialogue coincides with current sociohistorical events. The gains of the 20th century seem to be eroding quickly and racial aggression is less often experienced as being “micro” in nature. In this conversation, they will focus on several themes: 1) Lessons to be gleaned from Dr. Pierce’s journey as a psychiatrist; 2) APA’s role in this most recent iteration of racism that we are experiencing and witnessing; 3) Steps toward dismantling structural racism in medicine; 4) Current relevance of Dr. Pierce’s concept of microaggressions; 5) Reconsidering Dr. Pierce’s candor about protecting himself in predominantly White environments such as Harvard – current significance


Recorded session, non-interactive, self-paced distance learning activity.

This presentation was recorded on May 24, 2022.

Learning Objectives

  • Become familiar with the history of the Black Psychiatrist of America and the circumstances of its inception
  • Identify modern day manifestations of structural racism in academic and clinical settings
  • Know how racial aggression manifestations in clinical settings
  • Develop effective tools for securing one’s own emotional safety

Target Audience

Psychiatrists, other mental health professionals

Estimated Time to Complete

Estimated Duration: 90 minutes
Begin Date: October 24, 2022
End Date: Ocotber 24, 2023

How to Earn Credit

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ or a certificate of participation may do so by completing all sections of the course including the evaluation. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians) or certificate of participation (non-physicians) showing the completion date and hours earned. 

Continuing Education Credit

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

The APA designates this enduring CME activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty and Planner Disclosures

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME's Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity - including faculty, planners, reviewers, or others - are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity. 

Program Planner: 

The following Planners have no relevant financial relationships to disclose: 

  • Iqbal "Ike" Ahmed, M.D.; Josepha Cheong, M.D.; Jacqueline Feldman, M.D.; Vikas Gupta, M.D.; Philip Muskin, M.D.; Edmond Pi, M.D.; Art Walaszek, M.D.; Eric Williams, M.D.; and Ronald Winchel, M.D.


The following Faculty have no financial relationships to disclose: 

  • Cynthia Turner Graham, MD, DLFAPA, Vivian Pender, MD, DLFAPA, Constance E. Dunlap, MD, DLFAPA, Ezra E. H. Griffith, MD, DLFAPA 

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