Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Clint Randles, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

C. Victor Fung, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Phil Hash, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David A. Williams, Ph.D.


music education, desegregation, African American education, Black education, segregated high school music


For the greater portion of the 20th century Black Americans in the US South had severely restricted access to a high school education. Segregation Era Jim Crow laws effectively created two education systems in Southern US states, one for White students and another separate system for Black students. In Florida, elementary, junior high, senior high schools, and colleges were segregated by race. In Lakeland, Florida from 1928–1969 Rochelle Senior High School conferred high school diplomas to Lakeland area Black students. Rochelle Senior High School provided Black students in the Lakeland area an opportunity to partake in the 20th century American high school experience that included school dances, academic and social clubs, organized team and individual sports, and school sponsored music ensembles. Rochelle alumni became decorated military officers, successful businesspeople, professional athletes, and professional musicians. While some scholarly studies have focused on the experience of Black students at segregated Black high schools during segregation, there are minimal studies that have examined music programs during segregation at these schools. The purpose of this study is to detail the student experiences of former Rochelle High School music students and teachers, the teaching styles of former Rochelle High School music teachers, and an oral history of the music program at Rochelle High School. A secondary aim of the study is to illuminate the experience of Black students who participated in music ensembles at historically White senior high schools after Rochelle was forced to close in 1969. The purpose of the secondary aim is to uncover possible explanations why Black students historically have and continue to participate in high school sponsored music programs at a much lower rate than their White counterparts. The primary and secondary purpose of this study were examined using data gathered through interviews with Rochelle alumni, former teachers, the children of former teachers, individuals who experienced music education at historically White high schools in Lakeland, Florida after Rochelle closed, and historical documents such as newspaper articles, and yearbooks. An oral history of the Rochelle High School music program offers a small glimpse into the segregated all–Black education system that was ubiquitous across the American south from the late nineteenth century through the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Implications and suggestions for future research that could benefit music education historians and current music educators is provided in the conclusion of the dissertation.