Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden, Ph.D.

Second Supervisor

Robert DiFlorio, Ed.D.


Civic political engagement is an intentional and empathic leadership behavior, especially toward engaging minorities and populations that are usually not seen and heard. Research has shown that civic political engagement helps foster better communities, people, organizations, all levels of government, and private and non-profit entities. Engaging sub-Saharan Africans as a disadvantaged population requires that they are met where they are, and because this does not happen often, they have continued to be ignored and understudied compared to other immigrant groups. This qualitative study has been an effort to see and hear sub-Saharan African stories and experiences. The study used a descriptive phenomenology approach. There were 24 participants in four focus groups to examine how sub-Saharan Africans naturalized immigrants engage in civic political processes. The study used Hanna Pitkin’s political representation theory as a lens to approach the research. In the findings, the following themes and subthemes emerged based on three research questions. The first question investigated participation, and activities and behaviors modeled emerged as the theme. Subthemes were: voting, campaign and mobilization, advocacy/activism, and volunteering. The second question examined the influence of lived experiences, and the theme was perception and attitude. The subthemes were: opportunity, resilience, representation, and fear of politics. Finally, the third question investigated motives with the theme of ubuntu (“I am because you are”). The subthemes were: collective community responsibility, and dignity and identity.

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