Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. G. Pritchy Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. David Fenner

Third Advisor

Dr. Roy Singleton

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Charles Galloway

Department Chair

Dr. John J. Venn

College Dean

Dr. Katherine L. Kasten


This qualitative study was conducted to elucidate the current understandings about what is known about the African American pathway from seemingly oppressive beginnings to educational leadership positions. It was an investigation of five African American male leaders from Jacksonville, Florida, and their individual and collective perceptions on what enabled them to educationally succeed despite their humble beginnings. The study explored the similarities, differences, and historical experiences of all five of the African American male leaders purposefully chosen for this research. Two categories or types of themes were identified in this study, common background themes and common outcome themes. Six themes were common background themes and functioned as major influencers and motivators which are discussed at length in the findings. They included: family, neighborhoods, public school, spirituality, racial experiences, and heroes and mentors. The two common outcome themes, career and leadership,resulted from the influences of the other six common background themes. Three patterns emerged: discipline, work ethic, and ethic of caring, and could be seen in all eight of the themes in this study. All the themes and the patterns combined joined to develop the two major constructs identified in the study - racial identity and resistance. Conclusions were drawn from the research findings to identify factors that contributed to the racial identities of these once segregated African Americans, and what enabled and motivated them to achieve academic success. These conclusions focused on the family, neighbors, and schooling experiences of five African American male leaders and highlighted the importance of (a) role models, (b) being goal setters, (c) having high expectations, (d) believing in the importance of education, (e) possessing positive attitudes and high self-esteems, (f) being resistant, (g) being disciplined, (h) having a strong work ethic, and (i) living with a spiritual awareness. All the above attributes and influences were seen in this paper as resistance builders and the very foundation for the African American identities that emerged and became educational leaders in the Duval County school system. PALMM.