The Black Belt of the Deep South with rural areas in the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi has historically faced challenges that come with rural isolation, limited industry and financial services, poor healthcare options, and lack of educational opportunities. In the early 1990s, some institutions of higher education, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, sought to increase educational opportunities for African Americans living in these areas. This chapter provides a historic case study of a doctoral education program that was founded to increase the number of education leaders, especially African Americans with advanced degrees, who would work in Alabama. As a historic case study, it provides a general overview of the founding of the program including mission and vision, a retrospective of the types of opportunities provided to doctoral students, and reflections on ways in which the program has improved the students' professional practices from both faculty and students. One component of this retrospective is to trace those students living in and working in the Alabama Black Belt. A key understanding undergirding the importance of this work is that as school administrators educational knowledge levels increase, so does the personal knowledge base that they can contribute to the communities in which they live and work. In this way, the educational reach of the doctor of education program leads to improvements in the larger Alabama Black Belt through both community and P-12 school interactions.
Stewart, T.J. and DeRonck, N. (2020), "Advancing Rural Administrators and Teacher Leaders: Educational Opportunity in the Alabama Black Belt", Chambers, C.R. and Crumb, L. (Ed.) African American Rural Education (Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education, Vol. 7), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-167. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2051-231720200000007011
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