Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Eliazbeth Dinkins

Second Advisor

Dr. Winn Wheeler


This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of 11 participants who had four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The theoretical frameworks guiding this study are Culturally Responsive Teaching (Crt) (Hammond 2014; Gay 2000), Critical Race Theory (CRT) (Crenshaw, 1988; Ansley, 1988), and Abolitionist teaching (Love, 2019). This study's data collection is based on semi-structured and conversational interviews via Microsoft Teams with Students of Color (SOC) who graduated from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and had an ACEs score over 4. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include one or more events such as growing up in a household with an absence (divorce, separation, incarcerated), experiencing a parent’s illness (physical or mental), being exposed to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, experiencing natural disasters, or witnessing a violent crime. Phenomenology was utilized to explore the traumatic (racial) experiences of SOC in K-12 educational settings and their subsequent experiences at an HBCU. Racism is traumatic, painful, shameful, anger-producing, and stops the growth and success of communities and folx (Adams, 1990; Pierce, 1995). Racial trauma has been defined as a stressful effect or emotional pain that results from a person's experience with discrimination and racism (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2017). Finally, this study explored unspoken or spoken practices at HBCU that support Students of Color. The guiding research questions are as followed:

  1. What are the lived experiences of Students of Color (SOC) who have experienced racial trauma during their K-12 education?
  2. How might attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) impact SOC with racial trauma exposure during their K-12 experiences?