Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Kim Reimann

Second Advisor

Sarah Allen Gershon

Third Advisor

Lakeyta Bonnette-Bailey

Fourth Advisor

Akinyele Umoja


The past decade saw more grassroots activism than at any time since the Great Depression, including the 1960s. This has certainly been true for movements calling attention to racial injustices and inequities that have gained momentum in recent years. Little research, however, has examined how persistent discrimination and systemic racism globally affects the population support and trajectory of some Black protests and Black social movements more than others. Even less research has conducted a comparative analysis of this phenomena, yet the research in this study conducts a comparative analysis of Black social movements for racial justice in two countries, South Africa and the United States. This study examines how residual societal conditions from the legacy of Jim Crow laws in America and the Apartheid regime in South Africa affects how populations’ support Black social movements for racial justice in both countries. My Theory seeks to explain why social movements that combat racial violence generally receive more support than social movements that seek to combat other forms of social or racial injustices present in society. I hypothesize that social movements formed to combat vigilante and state sanctioned violence are likely to receive greater support than social movements that seek an equitable redistribution of wealth such as movements for reparations or land reform. To test my theory, I intend to utilize both quantitative methods through surveys and qualitative methods through interviews of social movement leaders. The research conducted in this study will make a significant contribution as a cross-country comparative study of social movements for racial justice.


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