Cobbs, Price M(ashaw) 1928-

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COBBS, Price M(ashaw) 1928-

PERSONAL: Born November 2, 1928, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Peter Price (a physician) and Rosa (Mashaw) Cobbs; married Evadne Priester (a teacher), May 30, 1957 (died, October, 1973); married Frederica Maxwell, May 26, 1985; children: Price Priester, Marion Renata. Education: Attended University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, 1950-52; University of California—Berkeley, B.A., 1954; Meharry Medical College, M.D., 1958.

ADDRESSES: Office—Pacific Management Systems, 3528 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118-1847.

CAREER: San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, CA, intern, 1958-59; psychiatric resident at Mendocino State Hospital, 1959-61, and Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1961-62; psychiatrist in private practice, 1962—; University of California, San Francisco, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, 1963—; Pacific Training Associates, San Francisco, codirector, beginning 1967; Pacific Management Systems, San Francisco, founding president and chief executive officer, 1976—; chief executive officer, Cobbs Inc. Chair of Renaissance Books, Inc.; member of board of directors, Foundation for National Progress, and Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health; founding member, Diversity Collegium. Consultant to Fortune 500 companies, federal agencies, and community groups. Military service: U.S. Army, 1951-53; became corporal.

MEMBER: American Psychiatric Association (life fellow), National Medical Association, American Medical Association, National Urban League (charter member), NAACP (life member), National Academy of Sciences (member of Institute of Medicine), Black Behavioral Scientists, University of California Black Caucus.

AWARDS, HONORS: Named outstanding psychiatrist, Black Enterprise magazine, 1988; Pathfinder Award, Association for Humanistic Psychology, 1993.


(With William H. Grier) Black Rage, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1968.

(With William H. Grier) The Jesus Bag, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

(With Judith L. Turnock) Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives, American Management Association (New York, NY), 2003.

Also wrote text for sound recording The Scope of Human Potential. Member of advisory board, Black Scholar. Black Rage has been translated into French.

SIDELIGHTS: Price M. Cobbs is a well-known psychiatrist who has focused most of his attention on how racism and other prejudices adversely affect the personal and professional lives of many African Americans. After completing his medical degree, internship, and residency, Cobbs went into private practice in 1962. During these early years, he treated many African-American patients who, he observed, were very angry about American society; interestingly, this anger was present regardless of the patient's social or economic status. This discovery led him to write the groundbreaking book Black Rage, with fellow psychiatrist William H. Grier. Here, Cobbs and Grier help explain this rage and to suggest appropriate psychiatric treatment for those who are suffering from its effects. Published in 1968, a time when social unrest from racial tensions was particularly acute in the United States, Black Rage became a popular book that is still considered to be a classic in the field. In a New York Times review by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt published at the time of its release, the critic called Black Rage "among the most important books on the Negro to appear in the last decade."

Three years later, Cobbs and Grier followed their debut with The Jesus Bag, which explores the role that religion has played in the psychological welfare of African Americans from the time of slavery to the early 1970s. Religion, the authors explained, actually helped contain black rage for decades by offering comfort to those oppressed by racism. With the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, however, this rage could be contained no longer, even by a strong faith, and riots and social upheaval were the result. As the authors put it in their book, religion "lost its hold on some of us and the rage-binding conscience was no longer effective." They added, "In a fury we burst into the streets….We looked into ourselves, and, even more, looked deep into white America. Our flaws, which we were taught to hide in shame, were in fact the flaws of this nations…. Where once we saw ourselves as deformed and debased, we now see how much more deformed and debased is the white bigotry which has so hurt us."

Despite the hard-earned gains that the Civil Rights movement won for African Americans, many barriers to social equality yet remained—despite such continuing initiatives as affirmative action. An important one has been the barrier to success in the business world, and for this reason Cobbs founded and became president of Pacific Management Systems, a consulting firm that helps businesses come to terms with their own corporate-culture prejudices and to learn how to treat employees as equals regardless of race, gender, or other differences. His work as a consultant for various Fortune 500 companies led him to write 2003's Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives with Judith L. Turnock. In an interview published on the American Management Association's Web site, Cobbs explained that although blacks were indeed being hired at large corporations, "it was apparent to me that the growing number of blacks in corporate America represented a highly misunderstood and underserved group. They had broken a heretofore impenetrable barrier and gotten in the door, but many hurdles remained."

Cracking the Corporate Code is about the unspoken rules inside a corporate culture that lead to such disservices as management passing up an employee for promotion because he is black or she is a woman. Here, Cobbs and Turnock profile thirty-two minority and women executives who managed to successfully break down this barrier and, although they are not household names, become leaders in their fields. Instead of going into in-depth profiles of each individual, the authors organize their book into subject areas such as "Understanding Power," "Managing Your Demons," and "Fitting In." Using various executives as examples of how to survive in the business world, the book aims to show readers how to not allow themselves to be defeated by corporate barriers, how to know which battles to fight and which to let slide, and how to become part of the team without sacrificing one's sense of self, beliefs, or heritage. "These stories are an inspiration for anyone facing self-doubt and isolation in the competitive world of corporate America," said David Siegfried in his Booklist review of Cracking the Corporate Code. And a Publishers Weekly contributor similarly wrote that "this is a smart, memorable collection of business wisdom that should provide inspirational guidance to young African Americans."

Today, Cobbs is still working to help African Americans and corporate management discard the misunderstandings that have separated them for so long. In the meantime, as he said in his interview, the best advice he could give for minorities in the business world was to "be aware of your personal and cultural history. It is of utmost importance to be aware of your core values. Learn the core values of your organization and figure out where there are gaps between your core values and those of the organization. Learn the difference between 'buying in' and 'selling out.'"



Black Enterprise, October, 1988, "Prescribing Strong Medicine for the Mind: Dr. Price M. Cobbs," p. 86.

Booklist, May 15, 2003, David Siegfried, review of Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives, p. 1623.

Book World, September 8, 1968.

Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1968.

HR Magazine, October, 2003, review of Cracking the Corporate Code, p. 141.

Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Carol J. Elsen, review of Cracking the Corporate Code, p. 111.

Nation, January 6, 1969.

New Republic, August 17, 1968.

New Yorker, September 28, 1968.

New York Times, August 7, 1968, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Black Rage.

New York Times Book Review, August 17, 1968, September 22, 1968.

Publishers Weekly, March 31, 2003, review of Cracking the Corporate Code, p. 52.

Time, July 26, 1968.

Washington Post, August 6, 1968.


American Management Association Web site, (October 5, 2003), "An Interview with Price M. Cobbs."

Greater Diversity, (February 12, 2004), review of Cracking the Corporate Code.*