Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Tiffeny Jimenez

Second Advisor

Ericka Mingo

Third Advisor

Suzette Fromm-Reed


To date, the lived experiences of Black maternal activists in North Lawndale have not been documented, even with the critical role many played while organizing with Dr. Martin Luther King as part of the Chicago Freedom Movement and the critical role of the Illinois Black Panther Party to the Black Power Movement (Seligman, 2005; Rice, 2003). With no studies of the lived experiences of Black maternal activists in North Lawndale, the theories of bridge leadership, tempered radicalism and their application to those lived experiences is not known. By examining the relationships and organizations influencing black maternal activism, this study aims to better understand the context that informs the potential growth, constraints and challenges faced by Black maternal activists in North Lawndale and the structures that they develop in response to structural oppression. Various settings where Black mothers organize present different challenges - to their leadership, their contributions, their motherhood, and their goals as activists (Robnett, 2000; Edwards, 2000). This study examines these various settings to examine several factors that are seen in literature as being present in these settings: gender dynamics, leadership styles, organizational strategies, beliefs and values of institutions and of black maternal activists themselves (Radford-Hill, 2000). Studies have established that intergenerational messaging has played a key role in how Black maternal activists passed information on in order to maintain community traditions, but little is known regarding whether and how this transference of knowledge is passed on with regard to Black maternal activism (Martin & Martin, 1985). This study will address this gap in knowledge by examining whether direct messaging through proverbs and sayings by community elders, parents, grandparents, and other mothers from inform activist practices, strategies, and value systems for Black maternal activists currently. The purpose of this study is to understand the lived experiences of Black maternal activists in Chicago’s North Lawndale community area. More specifically, this study will examine how the community setting has shaped their strategies and relationships as activists, with emphasis on examining the current influences of the Black Church.

Using archival data collection and analysis, semi-structured interviews, and social network analysis, this study will address the following research questions: What are the experiences of Black maternal activists in settings within the Black church and outside of it? What are the values, strategies and viewpoints that shape Black maternal activism in North Lawndale? How are Black maternal activists using the knowledge and insights of their ancestors to pass on Black maternal activist traditions in North Lawndale? What is social capital within Black maternal activist spaces? The theory being used in this study will be explored to see if the model matches the experiences of Black maternal activist participants. Therefore, there are 2 propositions that will be explored: Propositions: Activism described by participants will fit the description of tempered radicalism. Participants will describe enacting the concept of bridge leadership.