Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Sr. Remigia Kushner

Second Supervisor

Ellen Bergman


The purpose of this research study was to examine the response of Black church pastors to Alexander’s (2010) observation in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness of a “relative quiet” and “eerie silence” in the civil rights community and to explore factors that influenced Black pastors’ actions to address the mass incarceration problem between 2012 and 2015 subsequent to studying The New Jim Crow. Utilizing the phenomenological approach, participants for this study were purposefully sampled from a national database of Black pastors in the following regions: Northeast, Midwest, and South. Data collected from conducting 11 interviews with 11 Black pastors showed that they responded to Alexander’s observation by starting conversations on the new Jim Crow within local congregations and the broader community, educating policymakers on mass incarceration’s impact on the Black community, and identifying barriers to collective and sustained action on the part of the Black church to end mass incarceration. Pastors recommended that the Black church address the stigma and negative perception associated with incarceration, develop a shared vision for addressing race and racism in the criminal justice system, and play a role in developing messages based on Christian teachings to frame the conversation on ending mass incarceration in the United States. And, like past civil rights issues, mass incarceration is proving to be an issue that the Black church is strategically positioned to address and, once again, the church’s response is slow and uncoordinated in confronting this racial justice and human rights nightmare.

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