In Their Own Words: Voices of African American Students Who Attend Black Segregated Schools before Integration



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This qualitative study explored the experiences of African American students who attended Black segregated schools in a Houston community during the years 1935-1965. The purpose of this study was to give voice to the participants who were educated in a Black segregated school before integration. This research sought to understand students' experiences with segregated schooling through recollections from former students who were products of the school system in the community of Acres Homes in Houston. Furthermore, this research sought to give voice to these students in an effort to understand the role that these schools played in students' lives and the African American community as a whole. A purposive sample of five African American former students was interviewed. The data was analyzed using methods of narrative analysis.

Findings generated using thematic analysis revealed three major themes present within and across the larger narratives that represented the experiences of segregated schooling: happiness, heritage, and hardship. Each major theme that emerged encompassed pertinent sub-themes. Twelve sub-themes in total emerged from the combined narratives. Within the Happiness theme emerged 1) enjoyable atmosphere, 2) personal success, 3) closeness, and 4) activities. Within the Heritage theme emerged 5) strong foundation, 6) good teachers, 7) respect for authority, and 8) self-reliance and ownership. Within the Hardship theme emerged 9) rural to urban living, 10) lack of resources, 11) segregation as a way of life, and 12) unfairness/colorism. In contrast to much of the extant literature, these participants' segregated schooling experiences proved to be fulfilling and served as basis for future advancements.