Although there were many things that contributed to the development of the original Nigrescence model, three of these stand out: pursuing clinical psychology for his master’s degree, the Black Power movement in the mid- to late 1960s, and the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.
Cross realized that the pre-encounter stage also needed to account for African Americans who do not base their identity on an attachment to Black people and Black culture (i.e., people with low racial salience).
To capture the negative dimensions of pre-encounter, themes of racial self-hatred and miseducation were advanced.
Ethnic identity was indirectly linked with grade point average (GPA) through academic self-concept and devaluing academic success.
Tests of two alternative nested models suggest that even in an indirect role, ethnic identity may be more important than anti-white attitudes in a model of African American academic achievement.
Cross’s interest in the identity of African Americans came, in part, out of the segregated social context of the times in which he grew up.
He was the fourth child and first son of William and Margaret Cross; his father was a Pullman porter, a job that was steady and resulted in economic security, and his mother worked at different times as a maid and a factory worker.
The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 served to further the development of Cross’s thinking.
This event became his encounter, as described in the original Nigrescence model, leading him to immerse himself in Blackness, something that he had not yet fully done.
However, the Black movement’s emphasis on African Americans having the power to be anything they chose to be—an idea initially inculcated by his mother—led him to embrace this idea in a way that he had not done earlier.