Portraits of Black girl magic : understanding the lived experiences of African American women superintendents

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kisha Clemons (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Craig Peck

Abstract: In the United States, Black women rarely serve as superintendents. Historically, White males have monopolized executive leadership roles in education, and the trend data remains consistent to present times. Given these patterns, we have constructed our knowledge of the superintendency from a White male perspective. Consequently, this singular viewpoint does not illustrate the lived experiences of Black women superintendents. This study aimed to understand the lived experiences of Black women superintendents leading public school districts in the Southeast region of the United States. By investigating the perspectives of African American women superintendents, this study is significant because of its potential to aid researchers and practitioners in redefining educational leadership in more inclusive ways. The research design included elements of portraiture, a qualitative methodological approach, which infuses both aesthetics and empiricism to capture the stories of three African American women superintendents. I collected, analyzed, and interpreted data from semi-structured interviews to compose each superintendent’s personal narrative that reflects their unique Black Girl Magic. Their personal stories guide the reader on a journey to understand how Black women superintendents described their leadership, the challenges they encountered, and the attributes and supports that contributed to their success. Notably, I used Intersectionality and Black Feminist Thought to frame my study. By elevating the participants’ voices, the portraits reveal how Black women perceive their identities influence their lived experiences. The findings indicate that the Black women superintendents in this study share similarities in their experiences, yet their perceptions and interpretations of their experiences vary. The study’s findings also indicate that issues of race, gender, and the intersections of both significantly impacted their lived experiences. These Black women superintendents, though marginalized by both race and gender, historically viewed as an “other” and seen as inferior, use their Black Girl Magic to flourish and thrive in the most influential position in education: the superintendency. I discuss implications of my study for research and practice, including the need to create spaces for Black women to lead with authenticity, understand how context shapes their everyday lives, and examine the critical importance of Black female mentors. Keywords: Black women superintendents, superintendency, portraiture

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Black women superintendents, Superintendency, Portraiture
African American women school superintendents $z Southern States
Educational leadership $z Southern States

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