Identifier

etd-04142014-102134

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Historians have written much, particularly about large urban cities, on the desegregation of the American school system (Anderson 1988; Fairclough 2008; Watkins 2001; Irons 2004). However, little research has been conducted on the role that small communities played in supporting and influencing the development of desegregated school systems, and how African Americans in these communities experienced education. The focus of this research will be on the oral history of a rural community in Louisiana that desegregated schools in the early 1970s. What is unique is that, instead of avoiding desegregation, this community chose to create a unified school district in which all children were able to integrate which was unlike large urban school districts. This unusual response to integration was the result of the efforts of both Black and Whites. Using the methods of oral history, I examined how the school community of Zachary was able to adjust to desegregation. My primary question was, how did the community experience desegregation? What shaped and constructed an interracial community that struggled with the complexities of race and integration. As these issues were examined, research was conducted by recording oral histories of White and Black teachers, principals, and community members. Then, I looked at archival research of newspapers, yearbooks and documents of the city of Zachary. Together, these data sources painted a picture of how this community created unified school for both Black and White students. Zachary’s pragmatic choice to unify their schools in order to comply with the federal integration order led to themes in my research. Themes of integration as a bitter pill, unintended consequences of integration, and intended consequences of integration came to light. By examining these themes I was able to determine how this small rural community was able to unify their system with a positive long term outcome when many cities are still trying to gain a handle on integration 40 years later.

Date

2014

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Hendry, Petra

Included in

Education Commons

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