Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type

Restricted Dissertation


Much of the sociological research on Black communities focuses on deficiencies while ignoring assets. Consequently, we do not know much about how Black communities—among the most historically disadvantaged of all racial and ethnic minority communities in the U.S—remain resilient in the face of assaults—both figuratively and literally—on their bodies and indigenous institutions, such as the family, the Black church, and schools. My research addresses this gap in the literature by focusing on a historical community-based model that was successful during some of the most overt manifestations of racism during the twentieth century—the Jim Crow era. Jim Crow laws enacted from the 1880s to 1960s were intended to marginalize certain groups of society and privilege others (Litwack, 1998). The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was monumental in empowering Blacks during the Civil Rights Era, to combat the academic, social, and political exclusion produced by Jim Crow (Irons, 2002). Through the creation of Freedom Schools in 1964, Black youth were able to challenge and find legislative victories by using this model of mentoring (McAdam, 1988). Over half a century later, many contend that mass incarceration and the educational achievement gap, alone, constitute a “new” era of Jim Crow (Alexander, 2010). This research examined the way in which the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools and the mentoring programs that utilize similar models to SNCC’s 1964 Freedom Schools capacitate the youth to overcome a system, which is structured to alienate them from participating in it (Green, 2014). Through ethnographic study and qualitative approaches, I draw theoretical insight from the theory of community cultural wealth to counter the dominant narrative of a deficit ideology within these communities (Yosso, 2005). In light of the current social climate, and the contention that a present-day Civil Rights Movement is underway, this research is not only timely in the public sphere, but also in the academic world as contemporary theories are much needed to extend the knowledge base.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Weil, Frederick