Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Delores Liston

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Eric Hall

Committee Member 3 Email



The problems faced by African American males in the United States is often the result of misconstrued images and stereotypes that present this segment of the population in a distasteful manner. If one chimes in to various circuits of popular culture, glances over the latest headlines of newspapers, and/or listens to the confluent lyrics of hip hop that, eloquently, bridges life struggles with melodic hooks to expose the oppression faced by people of color, one thing becomes apparent: Social progression is dependent upon society’s ability to magnify, listen to, and incorporate the voices of marginalized groups.

With the majority of educational research, in relation to African American males, focusing on the abandonment of Black boys in public schools and their lack of academic achievement, little attention has been given to the factors that promote success amongst this segment of the population. Utilizing Black Protest Thought (Watkins, 2005) as the theoretical framework in conjunction with qualitative methodology, the researcher deconstructed the existing stereotypes of African Americans by presenting counter-narratives of three African American males who have achieved academic success (which is defined as obtaining a doctoral degree). Demographic surveys were administered to gain insight on participants’ household composition, socioeconomic status, educational history, and parents’ educational attainment. Moreover, semi-structured interviews were conducted to address one central question: How do African American males experience educational success despite issues associated with race and racism?

Although findings of the study mirror some of the existing literature, this work contributes to the discourse of education in significant ways. Identified themes derived from the study that influenced the academic success and identity development of African American males are as follows:a high level of self-esteem; the adaptation of the prove them wrong syndrome; the development and adherence to spirituality; understanding education’s utilitarian value; participation in extracurricular activities; the prevalence of family support; and the presence of strong community mentors.

Research Data and Supplementary Material