Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Marcelle Haddix


Black Feminism, Black women, Black youth, ethic and pedagogy of liberation, Underground Railroad, womanism

Subject Categories



This dissertation explores the ways in which Black women across the Syracuse community embody an ethic and pedagogy of liberation for Black youth and their families within and beyond the school setting. The purpose is to understand in more nuanced ways Black women’s activation of their own lived experiences to dismantle systems of oppression and realize education as the practice of freedom for Black youth. Informed by Black feminist and womanist theories, this study employs narrative analysis, and sister circles—two methods which testify to the power of Black women’s her-stories and its impact on Black youth and their families. Knitting together stories and lessons from qualitative semi-structured one-on-one interviews and sister circles, I illuminate the ways in which Black women serve as conductors on the contemporary Underground Railroad. Laboring within a city that holds complex legacies of abolition, resistance, and occupation, this study foregrounds the idea that Black women are critical agents in the realization of education for liberation within and beyond the confines of the school setting. By drawing upon the expertise and knowledge of 14 Black women who live within and serve Black youth throughout the Syracuse community, I contend that this study has implications for how we foster and strengthen relationships between Black youth and their families, the communities from which they come, and schools.


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