Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Rhina Fernandes Williams, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Laura May, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Julie Ann Washington, Ph.D.


Identity construction takes place where people spend significant amounts of time. For children, those areas include home and school. Evidence exists that Black children are not given opportunities in school to narrate and affirm their racial identities. Racial identity has been shown to affect school success (Carter, 2008; Lea, 2014; Murrell, 2007), political involvement (Diemer and Li, 2011), and psychological well-being (Seaton, Sellers, & Scottham, 2006). Scholars suggest using history, narration, and dialogue to address this problem; however, current research has yet to incorporate these suggestions. I used a critical action research methodology to explore the influence of a specialized curriculum, document student engagement in critical race discourse, and facilitate the racial identity narrations of fourteen Black fifth-grade students. Targeted digital materials containing affirming Black historical portraits were used as springboards to teacher-facilitated conversations about race and subsequent student written reflections. Qualitative analysis was applied to students’ reflections after viewing and discussing the digital materials, students’ answers to direct questions regarding their racial attitudes, researcher observations, and researcher reflections. The findings suggest that students (1) had a severely limited knowledge of Black history and desired to learn more, (2) further developed affirming Black racial identities despite the historical challenges of Black people and despite personal contemporary problems, (3) were nonjudgmental regarding actions that their Black collective group exhibited regarding agency and subsistence, and (4) held exclusionary attitudes toward White people while suggesting the need for various races and cultures to spend time together. Implications for teachers, teacher educators, policy makers, book publishers, and curriculum developers are discussed.