Document Type



Doctor of Education



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Matthew D. Davis, PhD


Dr. Lynn Beckwith

Dr. Carl Hoagland

Dr. Claude Weathersby


This auto-ethnographic study explores the impetus behind racial transition in the school district of University City between 1967 and 1991. Factors contributing to the exodus of White families and the influx of Black families are examined through a lens of Critical Race Theory. Exclusively White through the mid 1960’s, The School District of University City was nearly 80% Black by the mid 1980’s. A great deal of this transition was related directly to neighborhood patterns occurring in and around the community. Extensive research for this study utilized the oral histories of former students, parents, staff members, board members, and community activists. University City School District archives, housed at the University City Library, were also utilized for this study. Resources such as high school yearbooks, school newspapers, Board of Education minutes, City Council Minutes, and anecdotal publications helped to establish the patterns and attitudes that permeated the School District of University City’s racial transition. The retention of White space and White privilege in a racialized school district is a central theme within this study. The political and social clout maintained by White stakeholders remained virtually unfettered as the district transitioned from all – White to predominantly Black. While much of the retention of White privilege is expressed through the oral histories of participants in this research, empirical data also demonstrate a vast gap in the experiences of White students compared to their Black peers attending school in University City. The notion of a “district within a district” attempts to unpack the elements that attach success and failure so intricately to race within a single school district.

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