Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Wynnetta Scott-Simmons

Abstract

This is an inquiry into school desegregation, Black Women, and spirituality with the focus on three young Black Women who desegregated a small rural high school in the South. Theoretically drawing upon the works of Alice Walker (1983, 1997, 2006), Audre Lorde (2007), Emilie Townes (1995, 1996, 1997), Toni Morrison (1988, 1993, 1998), James Anderson (1988), and William Watkins (1993, 2003, 2001, 2005, 2006), I gather testimonies of key events that help understand desegregation in Queensburg, Alabama, a fictional town that represents many rural Southern towns during the era of school desegregation. Methodologically drawing upon oral history (Brown, 1988; Haley, 2004; Harding, 1981; Ross, 2003) and fiction (Gomez, 1991; Banks, 1998; Walker, 1982; Morrison, 1998, 2008), I create three fictional characters, Mary, Barbara Anne, and Louise and invent fictional events, settings, and plots based upon oral histories collected. I use a metaphor of a-bridge-over-troubled-waters throughout my dissertation while the bridge symbolizes hope, peace, and faith and troubled waters symbolize turmoil, separation, and inequality. I capitalize the "B" in the word Black, "W" in the word Woman, "F" in the word Female, and "S" in the word South/Southern to empower historically marginalized and oppressed individuals and groups. I used a lower case "w" in the word white, "m" in the word male, and "m" in the word men to challenge dominant and privileged individuals and groups. With Black Women's spirituality as a central theme, each chapter begins with a verse from a gospel song that testifies to the importance of race, place, and gender, and the power of spirituality. Testimonies of Mary, Barbara Anne, and Louise raise challenging questions about segregation and desegregation in history and the current state of schooling. How did desegregation occur at Queensburg High School? Why is a school such as Queensburg High School still segregated 40 years after desegregation? What did it take for these three Southern Black Women to desegregate Queensburg High School? How can we use fiction, desegregation, and Sankofa to improve education today? Why does the public in the United States sit back and tolerate educational inequality? I hope that experiences of these Southern Black Women provide testimonies to empower marginalized and disenfranchised individuals and groups to build a mighty bridge over turbulent troubled waters to create hopes and dreams for all to reach their highest human potential.

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