Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Dorian L. McCoy

Committee Members

Karen D. Boyd, Jud C. Laughter, Lois Presser


Historically, the study of racial identity has focused on Groups of Color (Jardina, 2019). This myopic focus has left White people and scholars deficient in White racial literacy and critical consciousness (Tatum, 1994; Wise, 2005, 2008). Moreover, there are inadequate historical accounts of White anti-racist exemplars to examine how White people develop racial literacy, and how racial identities play a role in students’ decisions to engage in activism (Ayvazian, 2004; Laughter, 2007; Malott et al., 2019; O’Brien, 2001; Smith & Redington, 2010; Spanierman & Smith, 2017). This narrative inquiry collected the critical life histories of seven southern White people who identified as activists and participated in the Civil Rights Movement. Their critical life histories were collected to inform and demonstrate how southern White students came to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, despite being socialized in a society that was overtly racist (Diniz-Pereira, 2008). The narratives that the participants shared contributed to the literature by providing an understanding of how southern White people developed their anti-racist and activist identities. These narratives can aid current and future higher education administrators, educators, and researchers in understanding how White students develop anti-racist identity, and how they may become better at supporting Black and other People of Color.

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