Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Major Professor

Mary Jane Connelly


This study examined the impact of the federally ordered school desegregation of Clinton High School in Tennessee beginning in August 1956 when twelve African Americans enrolled and culminating with the October 1958 bombing of the school. The study presented a review of case law and national events leading to the court ordered desegregation and described the effect these decisions had upon Clinton, Tennessee. The experiences and perceptions of those who were students and educators at that time were collected through semi-structured interviews. Although Clinton High School was desegregated before Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, the story of the Arkansas students is much better documented. This study, therefore, documents an important chapter in civil rights history. Common themes were elicited from the personal stories of participants. Data were compared and coded into categories to determine emerging themes. Related literature and archival data provided the background for examination of participants' experiences, and their stories were told in the context of five themes: (1) Values and Beliefs; (2) Personal Benchmarks; (3) Leaders, Antagonists, and Everyday Heroes; (4) Looking at the Past and Present; and (5) If History Could Repeat Itself.

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