Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

William R. Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vonzell Agosto, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Shircliffe, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Muhammad Khalifa, Ph.D.


Life History, Parent Participation, Parent School Relationships, Race, Racial Socialization


This family histories research study uses life history methods to explore narratives of parents’ lives regarding ways in which they socialize their children and engage school staff around issues of race and racism. The information gathered is from interviews with the two primary participants, two focus groups; one with each primary participant and the adults with whom they are raising their elementary school (Pre-K to Grade-5) children, and follow-up interviews with both primary participants. The first finding in this study is that the family life stories in both families play a direct role in socializing their children, in that the parents have shared many of their life stories related to race and racism with one another and their children prior to and regardless of this study. The second finding is that the family life stories in both families play a role in their engagement with school staff around issues of race and racism. Both findings are revealed within the themes of overt racism, covert racism, awakening (the process of one suddenly realizing something he/she had never realized), and closeness (the feeling of some level of emotion or personal connection). Also discussed, following the themes and findings, is the commonality between the two families in this study, enrolling their children in the same racially and culturally diverse International Baccalaureate school. Recommendations include: bringing to the attention of educational leaders and policy-makers the advantages of analyzing ones’ own history; providing the opportunity for voices most often unheard to be listened to and heard by policy-makers and decision makers; and that further research into the impact of policies that are intended to address issues related to race, racism, and other equal opportunity and/or anti-discrimination efforts are confirmed impactful through the voices of individuals.