James Jackson launched this program to address the need for high quality national data on African Americans, and to provide research and training opportunities for social scientists and students of color. Its first major initiative, the National Survey of Black Americans, started in 1979, assessed rates of psychological distress and serious mental problems among black Americans, along with a range of social, political and economic factors. Many participants were re-interviewed eight, nine, and 12 years after the initial study, providing longitudinal information that has helped guide policymakers and practitioners.

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