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Bridging the Legacy of Activism Across Generations: Life Stories of African American Educators in Post-Civil Rights Birmingham

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This qualitative study takes account of the salience of activism in informing the worldviews and professional practices of a multigenerational sample of 42 African American educators in Birmingham, Alabama. Framed by life course, Black feminist thought, and hip-hop educational research perspectives, the study highlights how the participants grapple with: generational misunderstandings; re-visioning traditional notions of activism; and forging intergenerational alliances. Birmingham, forever bound by its haunted yet sacred civil rights history, is presented as a prototypical space for examining this inquiry and sparking a resurgent activism among African American educators. The author concludes with implications for the capacity of contemporary African American educators in the U.S. South to forge intergenerational alliances to advance the aims of African American education.

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This research was funded by the Lyle K. Spencer Foundation (200500140) and a Comprehensive Minority Faculty Development Award from The UAB Office of Equity and Diversity. The views presented here are those of the author and not necessarily those held by the funding agencies. The author would like to thank both her study participants and research and transcription assistants: Michael Chambers, II, Inas Mahdi, Sylvia Hollins, and Debrie Woods.

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Correspondence to Tondra L. Loder-Jackson.

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Loder-Jackson, T.L. Bridging the Legacy of Activism Across Generations: Life Stories of African American Educators in Post-Civil Rights Birmingham. Urban Rev 43, 151–174 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-009-0142-1

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  • African American education
  • Multigenerational life stories
  • Activism
  • U.S. South