Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Second Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Third Advisor

Tricia Kress


Social justice school leadership highlights and dismantles barriers to equity, inclusion and quality outcomes for children whose communities were/are dis-serviced by our education system. When resistance to those efforts racializes Black male principals through mechanisms of white racial power, the leadership efforts must then center racial justice. Highly resourced small urban spaces, and gentrifying city centers, both operate schools where a privileged white minority can exert undue control over a majority nonwhite population, thereby reproducing the dynamics and outcomes of race and class oppression. This dissertation explores how three Black male principals enacted social justice agendas in their schools in the face of white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and white economic privilege. Further, the study situates the praxis of Black male social justice school leadership within the broader fight against injustice and oppression. This autoethnographic counternarrative positions schools within a colonial framework, and views schooling practices as acts of colonization. Through autoethnographic analysis, interviews, and a focus group, critical race theory was used to expose the limits of social justice theory as a tool for racial justice in education. Findings indicate that: (1) Black male principals enacting social justice center race as a way to navigate white supremacy and privilege in schools; (2) these principals see their presence and their work as an activation of their own racial power; (3) these principals view schools and schooling as inherently designed to produce disparate opportunities and outcomes; and (4) the work of creating racially and socially just schools is healing and empowering for Black leaders and the communities in which they lead and belong. Implications for expanding social justice leadership theory to include explicit racial justice, illuminating Black lived experience in school leadership discourse and leadership theory, and interrogating the dynamics of race and racial power in leader and educator preparation.


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