Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Rebecca Stephenson

Second Advisor

Karen Huchting

Third Advisor

Terrelle Sales


Progressive education has the socially transformative potential to mitigate the racialized violence of neoliberal education reform, but is dominated by white norms and has failed for more than a century to articulate a coherent or purposeful political agenda explicitly committed to racial equity and justice. Informed by Critical Race Theory, Critical Pedagogy, and Critical Biculturalism, this qualitative study engaged Black progressive educators and activists in an effort not only to understand the contours and impacts of white hegemonic norms in progressive education spaces, but also to produce a framework of principles, policies, and/or practices that could disrupt them. Using Critical Narrative Inquiry as a research method, four Black progressive educators and activists participated in semi-structured interviews in two parts: first, to elicit stories that speak to emotions, environments, and past experiences of whiteness in progressive education spaces, and second, to invite participants to identify principles, policies, or practices that could move progressive education from a “white space” (Anderson, 2015) to “cultural democracy” (Darder, 2012). Analysis of participants’ stories yielded five predominant themes unveiling the complex dynamics of whiteness in progressive education spaces. Findings supplement the limited field of research on the racialized dynamics of progressive education by offering recommendations to Black and white progressive educators and activists, progressive school and organizational leaders, and progressive advocacy organizations and universities to disrupt the hegemony of white norms and advance racial equity and justice in progressive education.