Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Rosetta Sandidge

Second Advisor

Dr. Sharon Brennan


This descriptive case study of a historical period in education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky identifies the resiliency factors utilized by the first class to desegregate the Bowling Green, Kentucky, public school system. The participants in the study were members of the first African-American class to integrate the Bowling Green school system in 1965.

Critical Race Theory provided the tenets undergirding the research study. The qualitative research methods included conducting semi-structured interviews with participants; studying documents and artifacts from the era; having conversations with community members and educators; and collecting, archiving, and housing Bowling Green African-American education documents, artifacts, and memorabilia.

During the semi-structured interviews conducted a half century later, participants’ verbal, facial, and body expressions exemplified the pain and discomfort they experienced throughout this transition. Participants described how the use of resiliency factors learned from their families, teachers, churches, and community enabled them to analyze, interpret, navigate, compete, and graduate. Participants indicated their encounter with the historically segregated, white school system was confusing, conflicting, and in some instances, contentious. The experience was disorienting for all participants.

Participants also reported achievement gap conflicts were encountered from the first day of the desegregated school year. Their explanations of the internal and external motivational resources and resiliency factors that they employed provides historical basis for discussions of achievement gap issues today. Their description of this unprecedented historical encounter shares resemblances to present day achievement gap issues. Findings from a contemporary study on resiliency conducted by Brown (2008) suggest present day achievement gap conflicts may be cultural and psychological conflicts that can be identified, measured, and analyzed by academic indicators.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)