Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD, Chair; Daniel M. Miller, PhD; Annjennette McFarlin, PhD


African Americans, Black Community Crusade for Children, Children’s Defense Fund, Freedom Schools, historical perspective, Leadership studies, minority & ethnic groups, self-help, social change


Since the first African slave ship arrived on the American shores, the nature of life for these new inhabitants has differed greatly from that of any other immigrant group. The usual patterns of assimilation were not present. While most other immigrant groups were able to assimilate within three generations by making name changes, taking on characteristics of the majority population, finding employment and acculturating via education, the same avenues were not available to Blacks. After approximately 400 years of differential treatment, negative stereotyping, social stigmatization, and inordinate poverty, many Blacks are still struggling to assimilate. One of the greatest points of divergence for Blacks is found in the area of education. Blacks were the only immigrant group denied education; their access was restricted during most of their history in America. Once the doors to education opened, the achievement of Blacks continued to fall below that of most other groups. The Children's Defense Fund and the Black Community Crusade for Children developed a program called Freedom School to address the problem of education within the Black community. This study sought to analyze and fully understand the development of the Freedom School program from the perspective of the participants. The study used a case study approach. The Freedom School program included a component of leadership development and provides an example of leadership in the Black community. Multiple sources of data were used to assure reliability and validity. These sources provided a richer perspective of the Freedom School than was expected because they provided information about two earlier programs. A relationship between the three different Freedom School programs was also found and a pattern of self-help within the Black community was also discovered.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access