Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Zach Kelehear


This qualitative study sought to better understand the lived experiences of five African American administrators leading predominately White school settings in the upstate of South Carolina relative to race and resilience. Guided by critical race methodology, this research included a series of in-depth phenomenological interviews and a focus group interview, in order to uncover the lived experiences of African American administrators and identify commonalities in their experiences, the role that race plays in their job setting and factors that contribute to their resilience as successful leaders in racially incongruent settings.

The study sought to better understand how the lived experiences of study participants reflect the impact of race in their job tenure. The study also sought to determine how the lived experiences of the study participants influence their perceptions of the phenomenon of working in a predominately White setting. Finally, the study sought to describe the factors study participants feel contribute to their resilience in their job settings. Five major themes emerged from data: (1) The leaders experienced conflicting emotions about being the race individual in charge; (2) The burden of representing their race; (3) The commitment to be fair to all-staff and students; (4) The need to be politically astute; and (5) Survival via self-efficacy, family support and job performance. Policy implications and recommendations for future research are also discussed.