WHO SUPPORTS US?: Motivating African-American Students for Success

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


The misconception that the African-American family does not view education as important is one that has been falsely claimed for years. Society gives African-American families a reputation for being unsupportive and their children as unintelligent when realistically the family unit within African-American communities proves as the most stable base to build a successful academic career. Topics such as this one are important to examine because it can encourage or inhibit of African American students to work towards education overall contributing to our societies lack of educated people of color. But diversity leads to a more culturally relative and educated people, which in turn affects policy and creating positive policy change, making the the need for more educated people of color needed. Current researchers have identified that African-American students are turning to their families instead of educational leaders because of the lack of support received from teachers and faculty in the classroom. The research I am conducting focuses on the actions of the African-American family rather than the educators, bring the spotlight on what parents are doing in the home that are actually beneficial towards this community of students. In addition I will look at how institutionalized racism affects these African-American students, how African American families support their students today, and why their parenting techniques and attitudes go unrecognized by leaders in education. Through 6 interviews and the surveying of 57 individuals who identify as African American, my data uncovers answers that point to African-American students feeling unsupported by the education systems with 60% of students rating support from school as a 3 or under on a 5 point scale. However, family support is scoring a 4 and above among 83% of those same students. This suggest that immediate family members to be the main catalyst towards these students getting educated in this pool for participants. Through research like this, educational leader can more clearly realized their own faults and students of color can more easily gain an education and feel that they were supported by the very people who are who are teaching them. In addition the balance between support from family and educational leaders becomes more equal.


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