College choice in Mississippi : social, cultural, and political factors that influenced college choice for African American women in Mississippi, 1962-2002



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The goal of this study was to learn how Mississippi’s society, culture, and politics influenced college choice for college bound African American women in Mississippi from 1962 to 2002. In this context, the researcher elected to interview mother and daughter pairs who attended college in Mississippi after James Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 1962. To achieve its goals, this study traced the political history of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, the enrollment patterns of African American women in Mississippi colleges, and captured, through individual interviews, the mothers’ and daughters’ motivating factors in choosing a college. This qualitative research design study compares and analyzes the differences in the mothers’ and daughters’ choices and illustrates how outside influences affect college choice. The researcher used archival records, focus groups, and individual interviews to capture the data. The common themes that emerged from this study for the mothers’ generation were the power of community capital, strong family ties, extreme poverty, and personal sacrifice. The common themes that emerged from this study for the daughters’ generation were the power of family capital and individual ambition, fueled by a desire for a comfortable life. Because of the intense nature of the individual interviews the researcher captured a glimpse into the participants’ thought process in choosing to go to college as well as choosing which college to attend.