Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership


Recognized in American history as a leading force in the 20th century, the Black clergy played a prominent role in galvanizing a national movement to dismantle more than 100 years of government-sponsored racial segregation in US public. In spite of the significant role the black clergy played reforming the institution of public education in the 20th century, there is a growing body of scholars who describe the 21st century Black clergy as ineffective in advancing education reform in US public schools. Building upon the works of Middleton and Edwards, this qualitative study used a phenomenological research method to gather perceptions from secular and non-secular groups on the role of the Black clergy in advancing education reform in a failed local public school district. This qualitative research used individual in-depth interviews of 12 participants, and two focus groups: one with three Black ministers and the other with 10 non-clergy community members, to capture their experiences. The participants were selected using stakeholder groups from previous research on public school. The findings offered insight into causes for why the Black clergy is viewed as ineffective and what this body might do to regain its reputation as a leading force for public education reform in the 21st century. Analysis yielded five emergent themes, including unique characteristics of the Black clergy, roles and expectations of Black clergy, new issues for public school reform, leadership opportunities to improve public schools, and barriers to equality. Implications include areas for Black clergy to consider when addressing public school reform. Recommendations include strategies for Black clergy to employ as leaders with influence over policy and practices related to public school reform, in addition to recommendations for future research to advance the role of Black clergy in addressing public school reform.

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