Term of Award

Fall 2011

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

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Saundra Nettles

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Wynnetta Scott-Simmons

Committee Member 3 Email



This study explores the lives of three generations of African American women teachers in my family, my mother, Carolyn T. Sims, my aunt, Natalie T. Woods, and myself. Using Critical Race Theory (e.g., Delgado & Stefancic; 2001; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Parker, Deyhle, & Villenas, 1999) as the theoretical framework and oral history (e.g., Armitage & Mercier, 2009; He, 2003; Jefferson, 2008; Scott-Simmons, 2008; Vaz, 1997) as the methodology, I explore the educational experience of my mother and my aunt during segregation, desegregation, and post segregation. I weave my experience of teaching as an African American teacher into the stories my mother and my aunt told and into my analyses of their stories. This inquiry draws upon a wide array of research on African American educational history (e.g., Woodson, 2008), education of African Americans in the South (e.g., Anderson, 1988), learning while Black (e.g., Hale, 2001; Hillard, 2003), culturally responsive pedagogy (e.g., Au & Jordan, 1981; Siddle-Walker & Snarey, 1995; Gay, 2000; Irvine & Armento, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1994), caring and justice (e.g., Siddle-Walker, 2004), achievement gap or educational debt (e.g., LadsonBillings, 2006), African American women teachers (e.g., Bethune (1942/1992); Collier-Thomas & Franklin, 2001; Cooper, 1892/1988; Shaw, 20040, and paradox of segregation vs. desegregation (e.g., Baker, 2006; Fairclough, 2007; Haskins, 1998; Morris & Morris, 2005; Saddler, 2005; Siddle-Walker, 1996). The power of this line of inquiry lies in its possibilities to tell the silenced stories to counter the stereotypical narrative about the paradoxical experience of my aunt, my mother, myself, and many other African Americans during segregation, desegregation, and post segregation, to honor our cultural and linguistic heritages and our life long struggles, to challenge both the culturally relevant and contested aspects of pedagogy, and to create hopes and dreams for all the African American children to thrive in education and life in an unjust and unequal world. My inquiry illuminates that oral histories allow the silent voices of Black women teachers to be heard. Listening to and telling the stories of my mother, my aunt, and myself is an empowering and moving experience. Fostering a sense of caring in and out of the classroom enhances positive teacher-student relationships and promotes active learning. The paradox of feeling cared for and learning in segregated schools versus being schooled without learning in the absence of caring in today's desegregated schools engenders a demand for a curriculum of caring and justice and a culturally relevant pedagogy where learners engage in active learning; teachers care deeply about their students; policy makers make culturally responsive policies; teachers, educators, parents, community workers, administrators, and policy makers work together to create culturally inspiring, caring, and just learning environment to inspire all learners to reach their highest potential and thrive in education and life.

Research Data and Supplementary Material