Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Second Advisor

Dwight E. Giles, Jr.

Third Advisor

Lara Couturier


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of African American World War II veterans who used or attempted to use the higher education benefits of the GI Bill; experiences, that are largely missing from the current literature. The overarching research questions which guided this study were: Why did African American veterans not obtain the same college access and completion results as their White counterparts? What events, circumstances, policies and practices contributed to African American veteran's access or denial to the educational benefits of the GI Bill? This study contributes to the literature by increasing our knowledge of the experiences of African American veterans of World War II with the military, the Veterans Administration, the implementers of the GI Bill, and the colleges themselves.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) was used as the analytical framework for this study because in conjunction with being interdisciplinary, this race-based epistemology provided a lens through which to question and critique the manner in which race, racism, white supremacist ideology, and illusions of meritocracy molded a bill for veterans that by all accounts was race neutral; but by evidence, showed distinct results along racial lines. By using Critical Race Theory this dissertation gave voice to Black veterans in a historical context, and used a racial perspective to shed new light on a bill that has been widely viewed as colorblind and meritocratic.

This study revealed the strategies that were intentionally used by the framers of the GI Bill to exclude Black veterans from obtaining higher education benefits, and the barriers of segregation and racism that supported those strategies. The findings of this study show the extreme challenges, many of them insurmountable; that African American veterans encountered that ultimately impacted their ability to fully access the higher education opportunities offered through the GI Bill. It adds to the current literature by demonstrating the means by which equity was denied, and the defining role that racism and the GI Bill, from conception to implementation played in the postwar experiences of African American veterans.


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