Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Department

Education

First Advisor

Lesley Bogad

Abstract

Throughout American history, collegiate Black women have been at the forefront of many social and political movements in the United States. However, their voices, experiences, and perspectives have been erased, gone untold, or been excluded from the history, stories, and research on activism, leaving their experience to be interrupted or relayed by someone else. This qualitative research study illuminates the lived experiences of collegiate Black women who engage in activism. Using Sista Circle methodology, a culturally relevant- qualitative research approach, and Black feminist thought as the theoretical framework, this study seeks to explore how ten collegiate Black women from a predominantly White institution conceptualized their involvement in student activism.

The findings of this study revealed four main themes: collegiate Black women at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) continue to experience a cold and unwelcoming campus climate that contributes to their oppression, discrimination, feelings of exclusion, and lack of support; collegiate Black women enrolled at PWI’s need space to develop communities and coalitions that help them counterbalance and survive within the cold and unwelcoming climate they experience; these women’s perception and understanding of activism (“Big A”) did not align with actions (“Little A”); and despite their understanding of activism, the events of 2020 forced them to change their activism, which I refer to as “pandemic activism.” The findings of this study continue to elevate the voices and lived experiences of Black women and contribute to the academic dialogue on collegiate Black women activists. This dissertation concludes with recommendations for future research and implications for higher education policy and practices.

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